The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry. Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight (the rank existed during the reign of King Henry III (1 October 1207 – 16 November 1272)), but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of the various orders. There is no female counterpart; women deserving an honour of this rank are appointed Dame Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) instead.
It is generally awarded for public service; amongst its recipients are all male judges of the High Court of England and Wales. It is possible to be a junior member of an order of chivalry and a Knight Bachelor without being a knight of that order; this situation has become rather common, especially among those recognised for achievements in entertainment. For instance, Sir George Martin and Sir Alex Ferguson are Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and Sir Paul McCartney is a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). None of them would by virtue of those honours be entitled to the honorific "Sir." However, all are also Knights Bachelor and thus each may preface his name with that title.
Like other knights, Knights Bachelor are styled "Sir". Since they are not knights of any order of chivalry, there is no post-nominal associated with the award. However, when the style "Sir" is awkward or incomplete due to a subsequent appointment, recipients may sometimes use the word "Knight" or "Kt" (note the lowercase 't', which distinguishes it from "KT", the post-nominals of a Knight of the Thistle) after their name in formal documents to signify that they have the additional honour. This style is often adopted by Knights Bachelor who are also peers, baronets or knights of the various statutory orders (e.g. Sir William Boulton, Bt., Kt.).
Until 1926 Knights Bachelor had no insignia which they could wear, but in that year King George V issued a Warrant authorising the wearing of a badge on all appropriate occasions. The Knights Bachelor badge may be worn on all appropriate occasions upon the left side of the coat or outer garment of those upon whom the degree of Knight Bachelor has been conferred. Measuring 2⅜ inches in length and 1⅜ inches in width, it is described in heraldic terms as follows:
Upon an oval medallion of vermilion, enclosed by a scroll a cross-hilted sword belted and sheathed, pommel upwards, between two spurs, rowels upwards, the whole set about with the sword belt, all gilt.
In 1974, Queen Elizabeth II issued a further warrant authorising the wearing on appropriate occasions of a neck badge, slightly smaller in size, and in miniature. In 1988 a new certificate of authentication, a knight's only personal documentation, was designed by the College of Arms.
The Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor was founded for the maintenance and consolidation of the Dignity of Knights Bachelor in 1908, and obtained official recognition from the Sovereign in 1912. The Society keeps records of all Knights Bachelor, in their interest.
In the United Kingdom a Knight Bachelor is a man who is a knight (has the title Sir) but who is not both a
In the 1920s the Society of Knights Bachelor were allowed to wear a special badge on the days when other knights would wear their insignia.
The title is not hereditary so it cannot be passed on to the knight's children, but a baronet's title can be inherited.
Men who get some jobs, such as senior judges, are made Knights Bachelor. Women cannot be knights bachelor, so if they get a one of those jobs they are made Dames of the Order of the British Empire (DBE)
Knights Bachelor have no post-nominal letters (letters after their name to show they are a knight), unlike knights of the orders of knighthood, who use letters like KBE, or GBE etc, or baronets who put Bt or Bart after their name.
The title "Sir" is always followed by the first name, thus: "Sir Isaac Newton", or "Sir Isaac", but NEVER "Sir Newton". When speaking to him it is polite to say: "Sir Isaac". The same applies for women with the title "Dame" ("dame" is pronounced to rhyme with "same").