The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire is an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria on 1 January 1878 to commemorate the proclamation of Her Majesty as Empress of India, a title then for the first time added to the British Crown.
Initially it was bestowed on civilians of all religions and professions, male or female, and with time its scope was broadened to include military personnel as well.
The conventional cross-shaped design was avoided, and the badge took the form of a red enamelled rose, initially with the word ‘India’ spelt out on the petals.
Originally, the Order had one class. In 1886, the Order was reorganised as a junior order to that of the Star of India, was increased to three classes and became more widely awarded.
The motto of the Order is ‘Imperatricis Auspicus’, which being broadly interpreted means ‘Honoured by the Empress’.
When the Order was first established, contemporaries, unfamiliar with its new unusual insignia, would sometimes irreverently call it the ‘Jam Tart’ or the ‘Squashed Tomato.’