Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Order of the Indian Empire
- Knight Grand Commander (GCIE)
- Knight Commander (KCIE)
- Companion (CIE)
No appointments have been made since 1947.
The motto of the Order is Imperatricis auspiciis (Latin for "Under the auspices of the Empress"), a reference to Victoria, the first Empress of India. The Order is the junior British order of chivalry associated with the Empire of India; the senior one is The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India.
The Order was founded in 1877 to reward British and native officials who served in India. The Order originally had only one class (Companion), but was expanded to three classes in 1887. The Order of the Indian Empire was intended to be a less exclusive version of the Order of the Star of India (which was founded in 1861); consequently, many more appointments were made to the former than to the latter.
Appointments to both Orders ceased after 14 August, 1947. The only surviving members are Elizabeth II (the Sovereign) and HH The Maharaja of Dhrangadhra (a Knight Commander). Elizabeth II is also the only surviving member of the Order of the Star of India.
The British Sovereign was, and still is, Sovereign of the Order. The next-most senior member was the Grand Master; the position was held, ex officio, by the Viceroy of India. Members of the first class were known as "Knights Grand Commanders," rather than "Knights Grand Cross," so as not to offend the non-Christian Indians appointed to the Order.
Former Viceroys and other high officials were eligible for appointment, as were rulers of Indian Princely States. Generally, the rulers of the more important states were appointed Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Star of India, rather than of the Order of the Indian Empire. Women, save the princely rulers, were ineligible for appointment to the Order. Female princely rulers were, oddly, admitted as "Knights," rather than as "Dames" or "Ladies."
Vestments and accoutrements
Members of the Order wore elaborate costumes on important ceremonial occasions:
- The mantle, worn only by Knights Grand Commanders, was made of dark blue satin lined with white silk. On the left side was a representation of the star (see below).
- The collar, also worn only by Knights Grand Commanders, was made of gold. It was composed of alternating golden elephants, Indian roses and peacocks.
At less important occasions, simpler insignia were used:
- The star, worn only by Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders, had ten points, including rays of gold and silver for Knights Grand Commanders, and of plain silver for Knights Commanders. In the centre was an image of Victoria surrounded by a dark blue ring with the motto and surmounted by a crown.
- The badge was worn by Knights Grand Commanders on a dark blue riband, or sash, passing from the right shoulder to the left hip, and by Knights Commanders and Companions from a dark blue ribbon around the neck. It included a five-petalled crown-surmounted red flower, with the image of Victoria surrounded by a dark blue ring with the motto at the centre.
Unlike the insignia of most other British chivalric orders, the insignia of the Order of the Star of India did not incorporate crosses, as they were deemed unacceptable to the Indian Princes appointed to the Order.
Precedence and privileges
Members of all classes of the Order were assigned positions in the order of precedence. Wives of members of all classes also featured on the order of precedence, as did sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders. (See order of precedence in England and Wales for the exact positions.)
Knights Grand Commanders used the post-nominal "GCIE," Knights Commanders "KCIE" and Companions "CIE." Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders prefixed "Sir" to their forenames. Wives of Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders could prefix "Lady" to their surnames. Such forms were not used by peers and Indian princes, except when the names of the former were written out in their fullest forms.
Knights Grand Commanders were also entitled to receive heraldic supporters. They could, furthermore, enircle their arms with a depiction of the circlet (a circle bearing the motto) and the collar; the former is shown either outside or on top of the latter. Knights Commanders and Companions were permitted to display the circlet, but not the collar, surrounding their arms. The badge is depicted suspended from the collar or circlet.
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