Order of the Star of India

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Order of the Star of India
Insignia of a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Awarded by the Queen of the United Kingdom
Type Order
Awarded for At the monarch's pleasure
Status Not awarded since 1947
Dormant order since 2009
Sovereign Charles III
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Knight Grand Commander(GCSI)
Knight Commander(KCSI)
Former grades Knight Companion
Established 1861–2009
Next (higher) Order of the Bath
Next (lower) Order of St. Michael and St. George
Ribbon bar of the Star of India
The article is about the order of chivalry known as "Star of India". For other items of the same name, please see disambiguation at Star of India.

The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1861. The Order includes members of three classes:

  1. Knight Grand Commander (GCSI)
  2. Knight Commander (KCSI)
  3. Companion (CSI)

No appointments have been made since the Partition of India in 1947. The last living knight, The Maharaja of Alwar, died in 2009 and the order became dormant.

The motto of the Order is Heaven's light our guide. The "Star of India", the emblem of the Order, also appeared on the flag of the Viceroy of India.

The Order is the senior order of chivalry of the Empire of India; the junior order is The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, and there was also, for women only the Imperial Order of the Crown of India. It is the fifth-most-senior British order of chivalry, following The Most Noble Order of the Garter, The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, and The Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

History[change | change source]

After the Indian Mutiny the British government created a new order of knighthood to honour Indian Princes and Chiefs, as well as British officers and administrators who served in India. On 25 June 1861, Queen Victoria issued a proclamation creating "The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India" to "reward conspicuous merit and loyalty"

The flag of the Viceroy of India displayed the Star of the Order beneath the Imperial Crown of India.

The first appointees were:

The Order of the Indian Empire, founded in 1877, was intended to be a less exclusive version of the Order of the Star of India; consequently, many more appointments were made to the former than to the latter.

Appointments to the Orders relating to the British Empire in India ceased after 14 August 1947. The Orders have never been formally abolished and Elizabeth II succeeded her father George VI as Sovereign of the Orders when she ascended the throne in 1952. She remains Sovereign of the Order to this day. Today, there are no living members of the order:

Composition[change | change source]

Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda, wearing the sash and star of a GCSI, as well as the star of a GCIE. 1919
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan KCSI

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. When the Order was established in 1861, there was only one class of Knights Companions, who bore the postnominals KSI. In 1866, however, it was expanded to three classes. 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. All those surviving members who had already been made Knights Companions of the Order were made Knights Grand Commanders.

Former Viceroys and other high officials, as well as those who served in the Department of the Secretary of State for India for at least thirty years were eligible for appointment. Rulers of Indian Princely States were also eligible for appointment to the Order. Some states were of such importance that their rulers were almost always appointed Knights Grand Commanders; such rulers included the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, the Maharaja of Baroda, the Maharajas of Gwalior, the Nawab of Bhopal, the Maharaja of Indore, the Maharana of Udaipur, the Maharaja of Travancore, the Maharana of Jodhpur and the Maharao of Cutch.

Kashi Naresh Prabhu Narayan Singh of Benares was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) in 1892, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE) in 1898, and Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI) for his services in the First World War in the 1921 New Year Honours.[2]

Rulers of other nations in Asia and the Middle East, including the Emir of Kuwait, the Maharajas of the Rana dynasty, the Khedive of Egypt, the King of Bhutan and the rulers of Zanzibar, Bahrain and Oman were also appointed to the Order. Like some rulers of princely states, some rulers of particular prestige, for example the Maharajas of the Rana dynasty or the Sultans of Oman, were usually appointed Knights Grand Commanders.

Women, who were not princely rulers, could not be members of the Order. They were, admitted as "Knights", rather than as "Dames" or "Ladies". The first woman to be admitted to the Order was HH Nawab Sikandar Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Bhopal; she was created a Knight Companion at the Order's foundation in 1861. The Order's statutes were specially amended to permit the admission of Queen Mary as a Knight Grand Commander in 1911.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Dreamwater Free Web Space". 4dw.net. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  2. "No. 32178". The London Gazette (invalid |supp= (help)). 1 January 1921.