Queen's Honours System - The Statistics

Queen's Honours Statistics - The Definitive Guide

How many people win awards each year? How likely am I to win? Which Honour is most awarded? Are OBEs awarded more than MBEs? We'll try and answer these commonly asked questions on the statistics and data of the Queen's Honours system - and more.

Here at Bayleaf Honours, we don't like to do guesswork. We only use facts, whether that is in preparing your nomination or in publishing statistics. Unless otherwise stated, all the statistics and data stated below are for the period 2015-2019 and are taken from the Government Report on the Operation of the Honours System for that period (the 4th such report.)

How many Honours are awarded each year?

Between 2015 and 2019, just under 10 thousand honours were granted (9,929 to be exact). That is five years or ten Honours Lists (Queen's Birthday and New Year's) so around 1000 honours per list or 2000 per year

How many of each type of Honour are awarded typically?

It varies a little bit - there are no quotas, but the thresholds and criteria for each Honour are such that the numbers are pretty consistent every year.

In each Honours list of approximately 1000 people (remember, two lists per year), there are

270 British Empire Medals (27%)

400 MBEs (40%)

200 OBEs (20%)

90 CBEs (9%)

40 Knight/Dame-hoods or above (4%)

What is the split between male and female winners?

Maybe surprisingly, pretty close to representative of society at large. 49% of recipients were women between 2015 and 2019. (It is worth stating that at the more senior Honours levels, the percentage of female recipients decreases.)

What about other groups? Are they adequately represented?

This is an area we are passionate about, and the answer is clearly "No". Whether it be racial, disability or LGBT+, the percentage of recipients over the period lags the estimates of society as a whole - with 8.6%, 3% and 6.4% respectively. (This is one reason why we work hard to expand our client base to include these groups. Establishment of high-profile recipients from minority groups can only be good for developing role models for upcoming generations.)

What about the reasons for being awarded an Honour? Do you have data on that?

Yes - the Government is actively targeting recipients who have contributed to their community or engaged in voluntary work. Through the period, 72% of recipients were recognised for community / voluntary work (although that figure jumps to 87% at OBE / BEM ranks - meaning that more senior Honours are given for other activity).


Where do the Honours come from? Is it still "gongs for the boys"?

The system is certainly more transparent than ever before. 84% of the awarded Honours come through the Prime Minister's Office (the remaining 16% go to Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence - sometimes for hardship postings or senior ranks where Honours have traditionally been granted "automatically").

The Cabinet Office receives 3500 applications/nominations from the public each year (around 1/3 of them online - our preferred route.) The remainder of the recipients come from internal recommendations - from government departments, civil service, emergency services, non-governmental organisations, charity, sport, entertainment or public figures.

What chance to public nominations have of being awarded an Honour?

OK - so the maths is simple. There are 2000 recipients a year and 3500 nominations per year, so it's a 57% success rate, right? Wrong! Most of those recipients have been selected by government or civil service departments and they didn't "apply", they just won.

In truth, we don't know. The Government don't publish statistics on this. Some of our competitors claim that the average is 10% - meaning that of 3500 public applicants, 350 are successful, or 17.5% of the total number of recipients are from the public.

That sounds reasonable, but we prefer to know. We have filed a Freedom of Information request to ask for that data to be made public and of course, we will post it here if we get it.

So what do all these statistics tell me? Am I likely to win?

We don't like to talk in percentage chances to our clients. It's a bit misleading to say that our success rate applies to you. Your successful award is more dependent on your accomplishments than it is on our work. 

What you should always bear in mind is that more applications are unsuccessful (a LOT more) than are successful - so if you want to do everything you can to tilt the chances in your favour, we are here to help and advise. You can also use our Self-Assessment tool to quickly see if you might be eligible for an Honour.

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