What is the historical significance behind Princess Catherine’s new royal title?

On St George’s Day, which took place on Tuesday (April 23), the 42-year-old was bestowed a new prestigious royal title by her father-in-law, King Charles III.

The King appointed the Princess of Wales to be a Royal Companion of The Order of the Companions of Honour.

The order was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognize remarkable achievements and major contributions over a long period to the arts, sciences, medicine, and public service. The motto of the order is “in action faithful and in honor clear,” per TIME.

Princess Catherine has been bestowed the prestigious title of Royal Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour. Credit: WPA Pool / Getty

The historic move holds major importance because it is the first time a member of the royal family has held the title.

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, late Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

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The princess is the patron of numerous arts organizations, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Photographic Society, and the National Portrait Gallery. In addition to this, she studied art history at St. Andrews University.

An insider claimed to The Sun that the King selected his daughter-in-law for the honor due to the “esteem in which she is held” and her unwavering commitment since taking on the role of Princess of Wales following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing.

Reflecting on their relationship, royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith told PEOPLE that Catherine is “the daughter [King Charles] never had. “He shares with William an impulse to protect her. They are in this together, Kate and the King,” Smith added.

They also added that the pair share a bond as they are going through a “common health experience,” with their respective cancer battles. Smith notes they “are bound to have a close connection…I imagine there was some comfort [for Kate] in seeing…that it was possible to balance some private information without there being an imperative to share all.”

Queen Camilla, King Charles III, Prince William, and Princess Catherine. Credit: Chris Jackson / Getty

The new royal title comes after Catherine marked her youngest son Prince Louis’s sixth birthday with a new picture.

On Tuesday, Prince William was also honored by being appointed the Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. The role had been vacant since 2022 after the King, who held it from 1974 to 2022, acceded to the throne.

Meanwhile, the Queen consort, Camilla, was made a Grand Master and First or Principal Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

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