What High Honor Did Kate Middleton Receive from the Queen — and Will Meghan Markle Be Honored as Well?

Kate Middleton was turning heads at a state dinner for the King and Queen of the Netherlands at Buckingham Palace this week. While her ensemble was worthy of all the attention, it was the pin on her Alexander McQueen gown that caught everyone’s eye.

This was no ordinary brooch. It was a Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here’s what the high honor is, and who else in the royal family has one. (And when we think Meghan Markle may get one as well.)

What’s a Royal Family Order?

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace | John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Simply put, the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II is a high honor that her majesty bestows on family members as a recognition of their service to the crown. The honor is given out at the queen’s discretion and usually only worn at formal events. While this is the first time the public has really taken notice of Kate donning the badge, Majesty Magazine reports via Twitter this is the second time she has worn it.

The media and royal watchers have been speculating for years as to when Duchess Catherine may receive the honor. Some believe it took Kate extra years to receive it because she took time off from royal duties to raise her three young children.

How Kate’s badge is different from others

As photos depict, the Royal Family Order is typically a small painted photo of the reigning monarch which is surrounded by diamonds and placed atop a yellow silk ribbon. But while the portrait is traditionally painted on ivory, the badge Kate Middleton sports had the queen painted onto glass.

There is speculation this is because her husband, Prince William, has been fighting against the ivory trade for years. The Duke of Cambridge is a patron of Tusk Trust, a British non-profit that has been fighting for wildlife conservation in Africa¬†since the 1990s. Also, earlier this year, it was announced the U.K. will enforce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales.

It’s likely both of those factors contributed to Kate’s badge being made of glass.

But wait — why wasn’t Kate wearing a blue sash?

Queen Elizabeth poses with the King and Queen of the Netherlands | Peter Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images

Royal watchers also noticed Kate Middleton was not wearing a blue sash across her gown at the state banquet like her mother-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Long story short: The blue sash symbolizes a different royal honor.

The Royal Victorian Order, which was established by Queen Victoria in 1896, is awarded to those who have served the sovereign and denotes knighthood or damehood. There are different grades, or levels, of the honor and there is no limit to who the queen can give it to.

The queen also doesn’t have to give a reason for why she is bestowing the RVO on someone. For example, she didn’t make it clear as to why she gave her grandson, Prince Harry, an RVO in 2015. (Although Harry did just get back from a few long royal tours when Queen Elizabeth chose to knight him.)

Speaking of Prince Harry …

When might Meghan Markle receive an honor from the queen?

While the newest royal has been hard at work on her first tour, it’s unlikely Queen Elizabeth will be giving her any royal orders in the near future. If it took seven years after marrying Prince William for Kate Middleton to receiving a Royal Family Order, it’s highly unlikely Meghan will receive anything after being married into the royal family for only a few months.

But never say never! If the Duchess of Sussex continues fulfilling her duties, there’s no reason to think such an honor isn’t in her future.

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