The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire
order of chivalry
founded by Queen Victoria
in 1878. The Order
includes members of three classes:
appointments have been made since 1947, the year India became
- Knight Grand Commander (GCIE)
- Knight Commander (KCIE)
- Companion (CIE)
The motto of the Order is Imperatricis auspiciis
for "Under the auspices of the
Empress"), a reference to Queen 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
was founded in 1878 to reward British and native
officials who served in India.
The Order originally had only
one class (Companion), but was expanded to two 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.
On 15 February 1887, the Order of the Indian Empire was formally
given the designation of "The Most Eminent Order of the Indian
Empire," and was divided into two classes, Knights Commander and
Companions; the first Knights Commander of the Order were:
However, on 5 January 1888, a further proclamation regarding the
Order was made; the Order was expanded from two classes to three -
Knight Grand Commander, Knight Commander and Companion. Seven
Knights Grand Commander were created; they were:
Appointments to both Orders ceased after 14
. The only surviving members of
the Order of the Indian Empire are Elizabeth II
Sovereign) and HH The Maharaja of Dhrangadhra
(a Knight Commander, born 1923). The last surviving GCIE, Maharaja Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama
of Travancore, died in 1991.
The fictional characters Purun Dass by Rudyard Kipling
and Harry Paget Flashman
by George MacDonald Fraser
The British Sovereign
still is, Sovereign of the Order. The next-most senior member was
the Grand Master; the position was held, ex officio
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.
At the time of the Order's founding in 1878, there was only one
class, that of Companion, with no quota imposed. In 1887, the Order
was divided into the two classes of Knights Commander (50 at any
given time) and Companions (no quota). The following year, the
class of Knight Grand Commander (25 at any given time) was added;
the composiion of the other two classes remained the same.
British officials and soldiers 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."
As well, other Asian and Middle Eastern rulers were also
Vestments and accoutrements
Members of the Order wore elaborate costumes on important
- 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
- 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.
The insignia of most other British chivalric orders incorporates a
cross: the Order of the Indian Empire does not in deference to
India's non-Christian tradition.
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.
two kings of Bhutan were
presented with the KCIE:
- Prabhu Narayan Singh
of Benares, The Maharaja of Benares
from the Royal House of
Benares received the KCIE in 1892.
- Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King,
received the KCIE in 1905 from John Claude White, the first
Political Officer in Gangtok, Sikkim. He was promoted to a GCIE in
- Jigme Wangchuck, the second
King, received the KCIE in 1931 from Lieutenant-Colonel J.L.R.
Weir, also the Political Officer in Gangtok at the time.
- Abdul Karim, "the Munshi", Queen
Victoria's favorite Indian servant, was created a CIE.
- Rao Bahadur Kanti Chandra Mukharji (Chief Member of the Jaipur
State council, Member of the Famine Commission of India)was made a
CIE in 1891.
- Jagadish Chandra Bose was
made a CIE in 1903.
- Khwaja Nazimuddin was made a
KCIE in 1934, promoted from a CIE in 1926
- C.D. Deshmukh was appointed a CIE in 1937.
- Benegal Rama Rau was appointed
a CIE in 1931.
- Iskander Mirza was made a CIE in
Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa, Ruler
of Bahrain, was made a
KCIE in 1919, as was his son, Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al
Khalifa in 1935. His grandson, Sheikh Salman ibn Hamad Al
Khalifa , was also made a KCIE in 1943.
Maharajas of Baroda, Gwalior, Jammu and
Kashmir, Mysore, Indore, Udaipur, Kolhapur and Travancore, other
major salute states, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Bhopal usually received the GCIE
before they received a GCSI; other less prominent states usually
only received the GCIE or KCIE. Even smaller states got only
Sayyid Hassan Ali Mirza Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Murshidabad, received the KCIE
in 1887 and was promoted to a GCIE in 1890.
- Emperor Gojong
of Korea received the
GCIE in 1900.
Mubarak Al Sabah of Kuwait received the
KCIE in 1911. His great-grandson, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received one
in 1930, promoted from a CIE in 1922.
- Maharaja Sir Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur
Rana of Nepal received the
GCIE in 1933, promoted from a KCIE in 1917.
- Maharaja Sir Padma Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana
of Nepal received the
KCIE in 1919.
- Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Law Member of India and
Dewan of Travancore from 1936 to 1947 was awarded the KCIE in 1926.
He was also a recipient of KCSI.
- Raja of Panagal, Premier of
Madras from 1921 to 1926 was
awarded a CIE and later made KCIE.
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale was
- Maharaja Sir Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur
Rana of Nepal received the
GCIE in 1945, promoted from a KCIE in 1924.
- Sheikh Khaz'al Khan of Mohammerah
received the GCIE in 1916, promoted from a KCIE in 1910.
bin Turki, Sultan of Muscat and Oman, received the GCIE in
1903. His son, Taimur bin Faisal,
received the KCIE in 1926 and his grandson, Said bin Taimur, received the GCIE in
Sir Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman Bahadur, Raja of Pudukkottai was appointed GCIE
on 1st of January 1913.