The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is the "order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy", rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations and public service outside the Civil Service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V, and comprises five classes, in civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male, or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
Appointments to the Order of the British Empire were at first made on the nomination of the self-governing Dominions of the Empire, the Viceroy of India, and the colonial governors, as well as on nominations from within the United Kingdom. As the Empire evolved into the Commonwealth, nominations continued to come from the Commonwealth realms, in which the monarch remained head of state. These overseas nominations have been discontinued in realms that have established their own Orders—such as the Order of Australia, the Order of Canada, and the New Zealand Order of Merit—but members of the Order are still appointed in the British Overseas Territories.
== Current classes ==
The five classes of appointment to the Order are, in descending order of precedence:
# ''Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'' (GBE)
# ''Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'' (KBE or DBE)
# ''Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'' (CBE)
# ''Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'' (OBE)
# ''Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'' (MBE)
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