10 Dames of the British Empire

British Dames and Knights are part of an honour system whose roots can be traced back to the medieval concept of chivalry and the honorific orders of the Crusades.

The modern-day British order of chivalry is a visible honour awarded by the Queen, typically in recognition of individual achievement and service.

King Edward III of England
King Edward III of England

Created in 1348 by King Edward III, the first order of chivalry was the Order of the Garter.

At the Queen’s pleasure, it is still awarded as a personal gift to a limited and exclusive membership. Male members of the Order are titled “Knights Companion,” and female members are called “Ladies Companion.”

However, the modern honours system has evolved and adapted to recognise various forms of service to the United Kingdom, rewarding contributions to the arts, sciences, and work with charitable organisations.

King George V created the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” in 1917 to fill gaps in the British honours system and recognise service in a variety of non-combatant roles in World War One.

King George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India
King George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India

There are 5 classes, with civil and military divisions. For our purposes, we will focus on the rank of Knight/Dame Commander, which entitles the recipient to use the title Sir for men and Dame for women before their forename.

The performing arts is a widely recognised category for recipients of the Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Here are 10 actresses who have been awarded British damehoods for their contributions to performing arts.

Vote for your favorite.

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