Titles and honours for the great and the good

On Sunday 15th June the Queen’s official birthday was, as is customary, accompanied by an honours list. Some people were elevated to the ranks of the great and the good of our society and others, already part of the great and the good, became more great and more good, as their honours went up a notch or two in the grand scheme.

It is perfectly logical that society wants to recognise those who have done well for it, or improved it or helped it. Those people in my opinion are few and far between. Should you be honoured for doing your job very well? Should you be honoured for making charitable donations which do not in any way affect your life or that of your family? Should you be honoured for being bourn with a talent? I d not think so.

I must distinguish honours from medals. If you give people a token, like a medal, for a good or brave or charitable act that is fine because they can quietly put the gong in a drawer and smile at having being recognised.. I have not problem with that. I do, however, think that the system of awarding people knighthoods, making them lords and ladies and all this titular nonsense is corrupting and undemocratic, because with these honours you are asked to change the way that these people are addressed.

They become too grand to be plain Mr or Mrs. The polite form of address that we use for 99% of our population is not good enough for these superstars. It should be good enough for even very special people who have been honoured.

I would not call someone other than by plain Mr or Mrs (or Miss or Ms). I do not, for example, feel that Jeffrey Archer is my lord, or that Alan Sugar is my knight. Yet both Mr Archer and Mr Sugar seem to enjoy being called by their handles. Does that mean that they regard themselves as superior to those who are not great and good?

There are people of whom you may say, have deserved the respect that a title endowed by the Queen recognises, and therefore we owe them (and our monarch) the respect of using the title awarded.

I would disagree. I have always liked Voltaire’s statement, put into the mouth of a Quaker in one of Voltaire’s Essays of England, when explaining why Quakers did not use the most respectful form of address to Kings and Lords.

“We owe nothing to mankind but charity, and to the laws respect and obedience.”

4 Responses

  1. Robert, if Queen gives you a title because you have been doing honest “Green stuff” and therefore there will be a big piece of news headline on the TV and newspaper with Genersys Solar words, will you accept it please? Remeber this is going to give Genersys billions of revenue. I bet you would say “NO”, but your partner will beat you up for it. therefore, you no longer in a position of making your own decision.

    Everyone has its own definition of achievement. For engineer, they love to make a perfect workable system. For business, they love to make as much as money they want by buying cheap selling more expensive. For politician, they love the power. For ordinary people they love to make an ordinary life. For entrepurer, they love to make a career and create an industry which the industry respect even they are broke.

  2. I agree with recognition for achievements, but not to elitism granted by the Queen. Well said Robert.

  3. Thanks. Did not someone say “Do not trust in princes” ?

  4. Robert, you are a star in my eyes and I am sure many others, and if you were awarded a title it would not not add to that, so I agree with your sentiments about titles I would refuse a title if one day I manage to stick my head above the crowd also, humility is beautiful, anyway maybe you would not like to be in the company of people who pay to have a title eg, “cash for honours”

    The Insolation is very high here in Philippines I am taking cold showers and staying in the shade as often as I can.

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