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King George V wearing the Chain
The Royal Victorian Chain is an award, instituted in 1902 by King Edward VII 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, 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 and foreign. There are at least 12 recipients living, of which 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 Lord Carey [2002] who advised the Queen during her "Annus Horribilis," and the Queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. Heads of State who are recipients of the Chain include King Carl XVI Gustaf of Swedenmarker, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailandmarker, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Harald V of Norway, former Portuguese President Ant├│nio Ramalho Eanes, former German President Dr. Richard von Weizs├Ącker and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

It serves as the senior award for Canadiansmarker, who are (arguably) ineligible to receive knighthoods due to the Nickle Resolution. Only two Canadians have thus far received the Chain: Vincent Massey and Roland Michener - both former Governors General.

The chain is in gold, decorated with motifs of Tudor Rose, Thistle, Shamrock and Lotus Flower (symbolizing Englandmarker, Scotlandmarker, Irelandmarker and Indiamarker 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.

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