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Most Exalted Order of the Star of India
Star of India Insignia.JPG
Insignia of a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Awarded by
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Sovereign of the United Kingdom
Type Order
Awarded for At the monarch's pleasure
Status Not awarded since 1947
Dormant order since 2009
Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II
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 1948 New Year Honours, shortly after the Partition of India in 1947. With the death of the last surviving knight, the Maharaja of Alwar, the order became dormant in 2009.

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 and other flags used to represent British India.

The order is the senior order of chivalry associated with the Indian Empire (British Raj); 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 Saint Patrick, and the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.


File:"Sardar-i-Bawaqar" Sardar Mangal Singh, CSI.jpg

"Sardar-i-Bawaqar" Sardar Mangal Singh, CSI of Amritsar

Several years after the Indian Mutiny and the consolidation of Great Britain's power as the governing authority in India, it was decided by the British Crown to create 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, the following proclamation was issued by the Queen:

The Queen, being desirous of affording to the Princes, Chiefs and People of the Indian Empire, a public and signal testimony of Her regard, by the Institution of an Order of knighthood, whereby Her resolution to take upon Herself the Government of the Territories in India may be commemorated, and by which Her Majesty may be enabled to reward conspicuous merit and loyalty, has been graciously pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to institute, erect, constitute, and create, an Order of Knighthood, to be known by, and have for ever hereafter, the name, style, and designation, of "The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India"[1]

File:Major-General H.H. Farzand-i-Dilband Rasikh- al-Iqtidad-i-Daulat-i-Inglishia, Raja-i-Rajagan, Maharaja Sir Jagatjit Singh, Bahadur, Maharaja of Kapurthala, GCSI , GCIE , GBE.jpg

Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, a Knight Grand Commander of this order.

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

The first appointees were:

  • HRH The Prince Consort[1]
  • HRH The Prince of Wales[1]
  • The Rt Hon Earl Canning, GCB, Governor-General of India and Grand Master of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India[1]
  • HH Nawab Mir Tahniat Ali Khan Bahadur, Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V, the Nizam of Hyderabad[1]
  • HH Jayajirao Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior[1]
  • HH Maharaja Duleep Singh, former Maharaja of the Sikh Empire[1]
  • HH Ranbir Singh, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir[1]
  • HH Tukojirao Holkar, Maharaja of Indore[1]
  • HH Narendra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala[1]
  • HH Khanderrao Gaekwad, Maharaja of Baroda[1]
  • HRH Maharaja Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana of Nepal
  • HH Nawab Sikander Begum, Nawab Begum of Bhopal[1]
  • HH Yusef Ali Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Rampur[1]
  • The Rt Hon Viscount Gough, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army[1]
  • The Rt Hon Lord Harris, Governor of Madras[1]
  • The Rt Hon Lord Clyde, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army[1]
  • Sir George Russell Clerk, Governor of Bombay[1]
  • Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence, Bt, GCB, Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab[1]
  • Sir James Outram, Bt, GCB, Member of the Viceroy's Council[1]
  • Sir Hugh Henry Rose, GCB, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army[1]

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.

The last appointments to the orders relating to the British Empire in India were made in the 1948 New Year Honours, some months after the Partition of India in 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. However, there are no living members of the order.

  • The last Grand Master of the Order, Admiral of the Fleet The Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900–1979), was murdered by the Provisional IRA on 27 August 1979.
  • The last surviving Knight Grand Commander, HH Maharaja Sree Padmanabhadasa Sir Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma GCSI, GCIE, Maharajah of Travancore (1912–1991), former hereditary Custodian & Supreme Guardian Of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple

Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum), died on 19 July 1991 in Trivandrum.[2]

  • The last surviving Knight Commander, HH Maharaja Sri Sir Tej Singh Prabhakar Bahadur KCSI (1911–2009), Maharaja of Alwar, died on 15 February 2009 in New Delhi.
  • The last surviving Companion of the Order, Vice-Admiral Sir Ronald Brockman CSI (1909–1999), died on 3 September 1999 in London.
  • "Sardar-i-Bawaqar" Sardar Mangal Singh (1800-1879) of Amritsar. He was honoured with the award of CSI in 1876. He was also Member Vice-Regal Durbar (1864), Honorary Magistrate, Manager Golden Temple, Amritsar (1862-1879) and fought the famous and historic battle of Jamrud near Peshawar (1837) where Hari Singh Nalwa was killed and then remained in charge of Ranjit Singh's Sikh empire and ruled the tribal areas between Peshawar and Kabul, Afghanistan until 1839.


Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda, wearing the sash and star of a GCSI, as well as the star of a GCIE. 1919

Ashutosh Mukherjee,The Tiger of Bengal

Sir Syed Ahmad 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 retroactively Known as 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. 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 and Sir Azizul Haque were appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) in 1892 and 1941 respectively, 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.[3]

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, save the princely rulers, were ineligible for appointment to the order. They were, unlike the habit of many other orders, 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.

Vestments and accoutrements

Investiture of the Star of India. King George V is depicted awarding the Order of the Star of India to presumably an Indian recipient.

Mantle of the Order

Representation of the star of the order on the mantle

Charles Hardinge, Viceroy of India, in the robes of the Order.

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.

On certain "collar days" designated by the Sovereign, members attending formal events wore the order's collar over their military uniform, formal day dress, or evening wear. When collars were worn (either on collar days or on formal occasions such as coronations), the badge was suspended from the collar.

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 initials "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, encircle 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.

The Maharaja of Cochin wearing the mantle of the Order for the occasion of King Edward VII's Delhi Durbar of 1903


See also

  • List of Knights Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India


External links

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