Why Kate Middleton's New Title Is of Historical Significance

Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, has been given a new title by her father-in-law, King Charles III. The royal is seen here in October 2023. Credit - Samir Hussein—Getty Images

King Charles III bestowed honors on his family members and nobles, including a new historically significant title for his daughter-in-law, Kate Middleton.

The King appointed the Princess of Wales to be a Royal Companion of The Order of the Companions of Honour on Tuesday, St George’s Day. The order was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognize outstanding achievements and major contributions over a long period of time to the arts, sciences, medicine, and public service. The motto of the order is “in action faithful and in honour clear.”

Kate is the first member of the royal family to hold the title, the press office of the Prince and Princess of Wales confirmed in a call to TIME. The Princess is the patron of several arts organizations, including the National Portrait Gallery, the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum), and the Royal Photographic Society. She studied art history at St. Andrews University.

There are 65 members in the Order of the Companions of Honour at a time. Notable current members are actors Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen, musicians Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney, author J.K. Rowling, and broadcaster and biologist Sir David Attenborough. Past members were physicist Stephen Hawking, Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Non-British nationals can be honorary members in addition to the core 65.

The King also awarded new honors to other relatives. He named his son Prince William, the Prince of Wales, who is married to Kate, a Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The order, established by King George I in 1725 although believed to originally date back as far back as the eighth century, is awarded to members of the military or civil service for exemplary service. It’s been previously given to royals.

The King also made his wife, Queen Camilla, a Grand Master and First or Principal Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, established by King George V in 1917 to honor both military members and civilians.

The family honors come as both the King and the Princess are undergoing cancer treatment.

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