King honours Kate with role for public service and support of the arts

The Princess of Wales has been honoured for her public service and support of the arts by the King, Buckingham Palace has announced.

Future Queen Kate, who has been a working member of the royal family for 13 years, has been appointed Royal Companion of The Order of the Companions of Honour.

The prestigious appointment is a new one especially created for Kate, who is away from official duties while undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.

King Charles III coronation
The Princess of Wales in a Royal Victorian Order mantle at the coronation (Dan Charity/The Sun/PA)

She is the first member of the royal family to be appointed a Royal Companion in the order’s 107-year history.

Charles recommended the special honour for his “beloved daughter-in-law”, with appointees to the Companions of Honour in the gift of the Cabinet Office, the palace said.

The decision by the King, who is also being treated for cancer, to suggest Kate for the honour will be seen as a major show of support for the princess amid the challenges she is facing.

Current members include Sir David Attenborough, Margaret Attwood, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, and previously Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Winston Churchill.

The Order of the Companions of Honour – limited to just 65 people at a time – was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognise outstanding achievements in the Arts, Sciences, Medicine and Public Service.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Sir Elton John in 2021 after being invested as a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to music and to charity (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The honour for Kate recognises her service as a member of the royal family and her support and interest in the arts.

She is patron of the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and the Royal Photographic Society.

A host of other announcements were revealed on St George’s Day, with the King appointing eldest son and heir the Prince of Wales the Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established by King George I in 1725 although it is believed to originally date back as far as the eighth century. It is awarded to members of the military or civil service for exemplary service.

Earthshot Prize
The Prince of Wales has been made Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Belinda Jiao/PA)

Charles was a previous Great Master from 1974-2022.

The King also appointed his wife the Queen as Grand Master and First or Principal Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The role is the second most senior in the order with the King sovereign of the order.

It was previously held by the King’s father Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, and Charles’s great-grandmother Queen Mary, and the abdicated Edward VIII when he was still the Prince of Wales.

Queen Camilla visits the Royal Lancers regiment
Camilla also features in the new list of appointments released by Buckingham Palace (Chris Jackson/PA)

The Order of the British Empire, established by George V in 1917, is the largest order of chivalry in the UK, recognising outstanding contributions by individuals within their local communities or at a national level.

Charles also made four new appointments, which are in his personal gift, to the Order of the Garter,  including acclaimed composer Lord Lloyd Webber.

The theatre impresario, whose hit musicals include The Phantom Of The Opera, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, is now a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

The other appointees are Lord Kakkar, Emeritus Professor of Surgery at University College London; Air Chief Marshal the Lord Peach; and, as a Royal Lady Companion, the Duchess of Gloucester who is married to the late Queen’s cousin the Duke of Gloucester.

Royal Ascot 2023 – Day Two – Ascot Racecourse
Lord Lloyd Webber is made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (David Davies/PA)

Founded in 1348 by Edward III, the Garter is awarded by the sovereign for outstanding public service and achievement.

Each year, Royal Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter gather at St George’s Chapel in Windsor for a colourful procession and ceremony.

Watched by crowds of onlookers, they walk down the hill to the chapel from the State Apartments, dressed in blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvet hats and white ostrich plumes.