CBE stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and is a rank in the royal honors system of the United Kingdom. A CBE is one step below a knighthood, and generally given for leadership or exemplary service at the regional or national level.
The ranks in the Order of the British Empire are, in ascending order, Member, Officer, Commander, Knight or Dame Commander and Knight or Dame Grand Cross. MBEs can be given for activity at the community level, while the higher ranks require more significant accomplishments. Members can advance through the ranks by performing successively more important duties.
The Order of the British Empire was founded by King George V during World War I as a way to honor civilians who provided significant service to crown and country. As chartered, membership is limited to no more than 8.960 Commanders at one time. Awards can only be given to British citizens, although honorary awards may be granted to foreigners upon discretion of the monarch.
The "honours list," a list of those receiving rank in the Order of the British Empire or other British orders, is published twice a year. The first roll is published on New Year's Day, while the second is released on the Queen's official birthday in June.