Past figures honoured have included Albert Einstein, Max Planck, General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery, and more recently Mother Teresa, Barbara Castle and Nelson Mandela. HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the first woman to be honoured, in 1948.

In more recent years, recipients have included:

Royalty

  • Their Majesties The King and Queen of Spain (1988)

Heads of State, Political and International Leaders

  • Senator George Mitchell (2010)
  • The Baroness Williams of Crosby (2009)
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India (2006)
  • President Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea (2001)
  • Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany (1998)
  • President Cardoso of Brazil (1997)
  • The Baroness Boothroyd (1994)
  • President Richard von Weizsacker of Germany (1994)
  • President Shankar Sharma of India (1993)
  • President Mary Robinson of Eire (1991)
  • His Excellency Perez de Cuellar (1989)

Law

  • Justice Albie Sachs (2014)
  • The Lord Judge (2012)
  • Judge Shirin Ebadi (2011)
  • The Baroness Hale of Richmond (2005)
  • The Lord Woolf (2002)
  • The Baroness Butler-Sloss (2000)
  • Dame Rosalyn Higgins (1996)
  • Sir Robert Jennings (1993)
  • The Lord Mackay of Clashfern (1989)

Science and Mathematics

  • The Lord Rees of Ludlow (2014)
  • Dr Catherine Cesarsky (2014)
  • Professor Daniel Kahneman (2013)
  • Professor Ada Yonath (2013)
  • Professor Roger Tsien (2012)
  • Professor Peter Higgs (2012)
  • Sir Andrew Wiles (2010)
  • Professor Elizabeth Blackburn (2009)
  • Sir John Gurdon (2007)
  • Professor Edward Witten (2006)
  • Professor Carl Djerassi (2005)
  • Sir Paul Nurse (2003)
  • Sir John Sulston (2003)
  • Sir Robert Edwards (2001)
  • The Honourable Miriam Rothschild (1999)
  • Sir Aaron Klug (1998)
  • Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1996)
  • Professor Stephen Hawking (1989)

Religion

  • Anita Lasker Wallfisch (2011)
  • His Highness The Aga Khan (2009)
  • Archbishop John Sentamu (2008)
  • Archbishop Rowan Williams(2006)
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1999)
  • Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (1993)

Arts and Humanities and Economics

  • Sir Ian McKellen (2014)
  • Professor Joseph Stiglitz (2013)
  • Hilary Mantel (2013)
  • Mario Vargas Llosa (2013)
  • Alfred Brendel (2012)
  • Sir Trevor Nunn (2011)
  • Sir Geoffrey Hill (2010)
  • Professor Amartya Sen (2009)
  • Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (2009)
  • The Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve (2007)
  • David Hockney (2007)
  • The Lord Stern (2007)
  • Dame Margaret Drabble (2006)
  • Louis Cha (2005)
  • Sir Quentin Blake (2004)
  • Sir Peter Hall (2003)
  • Dame Antonia Byatt (1999)
  • Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (1997)
  • Dr Jonathan Miller (1996)
  • Professor Noam Chomsky (1995)
  • Bridget Riley (1995)
  • Jessye Norman (1989)

Business and industry

  • Dr Yusuf Hamied (2014)
  • Ratan Tata (2010)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates (2009)
  • Gordon Moore (1999)
  • Sir Paul Judge (1995)
  • Sir John Bradfield (1992)