Order of the Star of India

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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 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 1947.

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 associated with the Empire of India; the junior order is The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. It is the fifth-most senior British order of chivalry, outranked by 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.

Contents

History

The Order was founded to honour Indian Princes and Chiefs, as well as British officers who served in India. 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 both Orders ceased after 14 August 1947. The Sovereign, Elizabeth II, is the only remaining member of the Order of the Star of India. The Order of the Indian Empire, however, has a single surviving ordinary member (HH The Maharaja of Dhrangadhra, who was born in 1923).

Composition

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. 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.

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 Nizams of Hyderabad, the Maharajas of Mysore, the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir, the Maharajas of Baroda, the Maharajas of Gwalior, the Nawabs of Bhopal, the Maharajas of Indore, the Maharajas of Udaipur, the Maharajas of Travancore, the Maharajas of Jodhpur and the Maharaos of Cutch.

Women, save the princely rulers, were ineligible for appointment to the Order. They were, oddly, 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 Grand Commander 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.

Vestments and accoutrements

Members of the Order wore elaborate costumes on important ceremonial occasions:

  • The mantle, worn only by Knights Grand Commanders, was made of light 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 figures of lotuses, red and white roses and palm branches, with an imperial crown in the centre.

At less important occasions, simpler insignia were used:

  • The star, worn only by Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders, included a sunburst, with twenty-six large rays alternating with twenty-six small rays; it was in gold and circular for Knights Grand Commanders, and in silver and eight-pointed for Knights Commanders. In the centre of the sunburst was a light blue ring bearing the motto of the Order. Within the ribbon was a five-pointed star, decorated with diamonds for Knights Grand Commanders.
  • The badge was worn by Knights Grand Commanders on a white-edged light blue riband, or sash, passing from the right shoulder to the left hip, and by Knights Commanders and Companions from a white-edged light blue ribbon around the neck. It included an oval, containing the effigy of the Sovereign, surrounded by a light blue ring bearing the motto of the Order; the oval was suspended from a five-pointed star, which may be decorated with diamonds depending on class.

Unlike the insignia of most other British chivalric orders, the insignia of the Order of the Star of India did not incorporate crosses, as they were deemed unacceptable to the Indian Princes appointed to the Order.

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 "GCSI," Knights Commanders "KCSI" and Companions "CSI." 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.Template:British Honours System

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