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The Royal Victorian Order

    The Sovereign
    Grand Master: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
    Five classes
    Knights or Dames Grand Cross (G.C.V.O)
    Knights or Dames Commanders (K.C.V.O.orD.C.V.O)
    Commanders (C.V.O.)
    Lieutenants (L.V.O.)
    Members (M.V.O.)
    Medal: (R.v.M.)Gold
    Medal: (R.v.M)Silver
    Medal: (R.v.M.)Bronze

By 1896, when prime ministers and governments had increased their influence over the distribution of awards and had gained almost total control of the system, Queen Victoria instituted The Royal Victorian Order as a personal award for services performed on her behalf. Totally outside the jurisdiction of Government, the only stipulation made by the Prime Minister (Lord Salisbury) was that the Government should not be asked to pay for its maintenance.

Queen Victoria only bestowed the award on relatives and close friends. Edward VII, however, was more liberal in his distribution. Those responsible for keeping records found it difficult to maintain accounts of decorations. The King apparently liked people "to be plastered with them". It was jokingly said when Edward VII went on holiday it depended on the head cook's ability whether he received a silver or bronze Victorian Medal.

King George V brought more rationality to the allocation of the Order and it soon enjoyed prestige as a high honour and personal gift of great esteem from the Monarch.

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