This Order, instituted by HM Queen Victoria, Empress of India, 31st December 1877, was conferred for services rendered to the Indian Empire, and consists of the Sovereign, Grand Commanders, Knights Commanders, and Companions.
The Order originally had only one class (Companion), but expanded to comprise two classes in 1887.
The British authorities intended the Order of the Indian Empire as a less exclusive version of the Order of the Star of India (founded in 1861); consequently, many more appointments were made to the former than to the latter.
On 15th February 1887, the Order of the Indian Empire formally became "The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire" and was divided into two classes: Knights Commander and Companions.
On the 5th January 1888, a further proclamation regarding the Order was made; the Order was expanded from two classes to three - Knight Grand Commander, Knight Commander and Companion. Seven Knights Grand Commander were created.
Members of the first class were known as "Knights Grand Commanders" rather than "Knights Grand Cross" so as not to offend the non-Christian Indians appointed to the Order.
Knights Grand Commanders used the post-nominal "GCIE," Knights Commanders "KCIE" and Companions "CIE." Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders prefixed "Sir" to their forenames. Wives of Knights Grand Commanders and Knights Commanders could prefix "Lady" to their surnames.
Distinguished military or civil service in India was rewarded by either the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (founded in 1878) or the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India (instituted in 1861).
Both orders became obsolete in 1947 when India and Pakistan became independent. No appointments to this Order have been made since 14th August 1947.
Motto: Imperatricis auspiciis (Under the auspices of the Empress).