Around 2,000 people holding the honour filled St Paul’s Cathedral where they made an act of personal dedication led by the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres.
Senior public figures with the ranks of Knights and Dames Grand Cross (GBE) took part in a procession at the start of the service, including the Governor of the Bank of England Professor Sir Mervyn King, former president of the High Court Family Division Baroness Butler-Sloss and the first Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness Hayman.
The service heard prayers of thanks for the “courage, idealism and diligence” of members of the order but also asked for God’s forgiveness where there had been “talents wasted in selfishness and greed”.
Earlier, the Queen, who was wearing a full-length red state dress and the sovereign’s mantle of the Order of the British Empire, entered the cathedral before the start of the service with Philip using the dean’s door on the south side rather than the famous West Door.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the last-minute switch had been made because of the “inclement” weather.
The Order of the British Empire was founded in 1917 by George V with the motto For God and the Empire, and has more than 100,000 members throughout the world.