THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to make the following appointments to the Order of Merit:
(To be dated 31 December 2015):
The Order of Merit, founded by 1902 by EDWARD VII, is a special mark of honour conferred by the Sovereign on individuals of exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, sciences and other areas such as public service.
Appointments to the Order are in the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required.
At any point in time, there can only be a total of 24 members of the OM.
This has been the case since EDWARD VII established the Order in 1902 to reward those whose accomplishments in the arts, sciences and learning may go unsung.
Also, the honour does not come with a title, so there's no immediately obvious way of knowing someone has been bestowed with it.
Members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads "For Merit".
When a member dies the badge is returned to The Sovereign, who receives the next-of-kin personally.
The Sovereign also has a portrait painted of each member, which becomes part of the royal collection, and hosts a gathering for the entire Order every five years.
In Northern Ireland, the Right Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Eames, OM, former Archbishop of Armagh, is a member of the Order.
People who have been awarded the honour include Florence Nightingale - who was the first woman - TS Eliot and Sir Winston Churchill. There have been 11 honorary members from foreign countries, like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.
Although nearly all prime ministers of the 20th Century have been knighted, only six received the Order of Merit.
The late Baroness Thatcher was a member of Order.