the abbreviation for ‘Member (of the Order) of the British Empire’ (an award given to some people in Britain for a special achievement) She was made an MBE in 2007. Jim Cronin MBE Culture The MBE is given to people twice a year, in the New Year Honours list and in the Birthday Honours list. An MBE is the lowest grade of award of this kind.In 1993, in response to the feeling that awards were not given often enough to ordinary people, the government changed the system so that people who are recommended by members of the public for the service they provide can receive the award. CulturehonoursTwice a year several hundred British people who have distinguished themselves in some way receive a variety of honours. A few are given life peerages, some are made knights, and many others are given lesser awards. The honours lists are published on New Year's Day (the New Year Honours) and in mid June on the present Queen's official birthday (the Birthday Honours). At the end of each parliament before a general election, the Prime Minister recommends a list of politicians for the Dissolution Honours.For a long time honours were given almost automatically to senior members of the armed forces and the Civil Service, and to those who had contributed to party political funds. In 1993 John Major announced a reduction in the number of such honours and said that more awards were to be given to members of the public suggested for honours by colleagues and friends, or by people who admired their achievements. The Ceremonial Secretariat receives suggestions and draws up a final list which is approved by the prime minister. As well as the names of politicians and business people, it contains charity workers, well-known sports and television personalities, actors, musicians, etc., and many ordinary people. Honours are awarded by the king or queen, or another member of the Royal Family, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.Many of the honours are associated with one of several orders of chivalry (= groups of distinguished people). Some of the orders have different grades of membership, e.g. 'knight', 'commander', 'officer' and 'member'. Many people are given awards in the Order of the British Empire. Famous people may be given a CBE (commander rank) or OBE (officer rank); people recommended by members of the public are usually given an MBE (member rank). Some people think the Order of the British Empire should be renamed to get rid of the reference to the Empire that is no longer appropriate, but in 2004 it was decided that the name should not be changed. Most honours allow a person to put the relevant letters after their name. In addition to these honours there are many medals and decorations (= awards) for bravery, for civilians (= members of the public) as well as for members of the police and the armed forces.In the US there is no system of honours like that in Britain, though a number of medals are awarded for outstanding achievement or for bravery. These include the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.