Royal Victorian Chain
The Royal Victorian Chain is an award, instituted in 1902 by King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 as a personal award of the Monarch (i.e. not an award by the British or any other Commonwealth Realm government). Although it is similar in appearance to the Royal Victorian Order
Royal Victorian Order
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood and a house order of chivalry recognising distinguished personal service to the order's Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms, any members of her family, or any of her viceroys...

, the two awards are unrelated.

The Royal Victorian Chain does not confer upon its recipients any style or title - in fact, the Chain is not even given a precedence within any Commonwealth honours system - but it represents a personal token of high distinction and esteem from the Monarch.

The Chain can be conferred upon men and women, both of the Realms
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

 and foreign. There are at least 13 recipients living, of whom only three were not Heads of State at creation: the Earl of Airlie [1997]- former Lord Chamberlain of the Queen's Household, former Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 Lord Carey
George Carey
George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton PC, FKC is a former Archbishop of Canterbury, holding the office from 1991 to 2002. He was the first modern holder of the office not to have attended Oxford or Cambridge University...

 [2002] who advised the Queen during her "Annus Horribilis
Annus horribilis
Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase meaning "horrible year", or alternatively, "year of horrors". It alludes to annus mirabilis meaning "year of wonders".-Elizabeth II:...

," and the Queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

. Heads of State who are recipients of the Chain include King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej
Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX...

 of Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
Beatrix of the Netherlands
Beatrix is the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising the Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba. She is the first daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. She studied law at Leiden University...

, King Harald V of Norway
Harald V of Norway
Harald V is the king of Norway. He succeeded to the throne of Norway upon the death of his father Olav V on 17 January 1991...

, former Portuguese President António Ramalho Eanes
António Ramalho Eanes
António dos Santos Ramalho Eanes, GColTE, GCL, CavA, KE is a Portuguese general and politician who was the 16th President of Portugal from 1976 to 1986.-Background:...

, former German President Dr. Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard Karl Freiherr von Weizsäcker , known as Richard von Weizsäcker, is a German politician . He served as Governing Mayor of West Berlin from 1981 to 1984, and as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1984 to 1994...

 and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is the King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. When Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1998 to 2005...


It has normally served as the senior award for Canadians
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, who are generally ineligible to receive knighthoods due to Prime Ministerial policy (see the defunct Nickle Resolution). Only two Canadians have thus far received the Chain: Vincent Massey
Vincent Massey
Charles Vincent Massey was a Canadian lawyer and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the 18th since Canadian Confederation....

 and Roland Michener
Roland Michener
Daniel Roland Michener , commonly known as Roland Michener, was a Canadian lawyer, politician, and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the 20th since Canadian Confederation....

 - both former Governors General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...


The chain is in gold, decorated with motifs of Tudor Rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

, Thistle
Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant – on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the...

, Shamrock
The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland. The name shamrock is derived from Irish , which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover ....

 and Lotus
Nelumbo is a genus of aquatic plants with large, showy flowers resembling water lilies, commonly known as lotus. The generic name is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum. There are only two known living species in the genus. The sacred lotus is native to Asia, and is the better known of the two...

 Flower (symbolizing England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 respectively), and a crowned, red enamelled cipher of King Edward VII "ERI" (Edwardus Rex Imperator), surrounded by a gold wreath for men, upon which the badge is suspended. The chain is worn around the collar by men, or with the four motifs and some chain links fixed to a riband in the form of bow (blue with red-white-red edges) on the left shoulder by women. However the Queen's sister Princess Margaret in later life wore her chain around the collar, as male recipients do.

The badge is a gold, white enamelled Maltese Cross; the oval-shaped central medallion depicts Victoria's Royal and Imperial Cypher, "VRI" (Victoria Regina Imperatrix) on a red background, surrounded by a crown-surmounted blue ring bearing the word "Victoria". Both the crown and Queen Victoria's cypher are studded with diamonds.

The Royal Victorian Chain must be returned to the Monarch upon the death of the recipient.

See also

External links

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