How to address
Knights and Dames

Knights

Knighthoods are not hereditary but more frequently conferred, compared to the grades of the peerage.

There are two types of knighthood conferred by the Sovereign: knights of various orders of chivalry, identified by the appropriate letters after the name (e.g. GCMG, GCVO, KCB), and knights bachelor, which in ordinary correspondence carry no letters after the name.

The recipient of a knighthood is allowed to use his title, which is conferred for life, and to attach the appropriate letters for knights of orders of chivalry after his name from the date of the announcement in the London Gazette (known as being ‘gazetted’). He does not have to wait for the accolade to be officially conferred upon him.

The rules for knights can vary depending on the order or whether the recipient has any other order or official function (for example if they are clergy or a peer).

What follows is a more general guide – for specific questions about styling, please contact us.

Formally addressed and referred to as ‘Sir John’.

Dear Sir
Yours faithfully
Envelope: Sir John Smith (and the appropriate letters after the name, if any)

Dear Sir John
Yours sincerely
Envelope: Sir John Smith (and the appropriate letters after the name)

Spouse of a Knight

The wife of a knight is known as ‘Lady’, followed by her (husband’s) surname (e.g. Lady Smith), and she is addressed as with the wife of a baronet.

She would never be styled ‘Lady Mary Smith’ unless she was the daughter of a Duke, Marquess or Earl. Former wives of knights retain their style as ‘Lady Smith’ unless they remarry.

Husbands of knights do not derive any title or style from their husband.

Formally addressed and referred to as ‘Lady Smith’.

Dear Madam
Yours faithfully
Envelope: Lady Smith

Dear Lady Smith
Yours sincerely
Envelope: Lady Smith

Precedence of Knights in England and Wales

Knights of the Garter
Knights of the Thistle
Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knights Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knights Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knights Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Knights Bachelor

Dames

A Dame is the female equivalent of a knight of an order of chivalry. As with knights, the title is always used in conjunction with the forename. The title is not hereditary.

Formally addressed and referred to as ‘Dame Mary’ or ‘Dame Mary Smythe’.

Dear Madam
Yours faithfully
Envelope: Dame Mary Smythe, DBE (or applicable Order)

Dear Dame Mary
Yours sincerely
Envelope: Dame Mary Smythe, DBE (or applicable Order)

Spouse Of A Dame

Husbands or wives of Dames do not derive any style or title from their wife.
Husbands of knights do not derive any title or style from their husband.

Forms of Address

The King and Queen
Other Royalty
British Politics
British Aristocracy
Untitled People

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