Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Order of Merit

THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS HONOUR awarded to British and Commonwealth citizens after the Victoria Cross (or civilian equivalent), the Order of the Garter (or national equivalent) and the Order of the Bath, is the highly exclusive Order of Merit. Because there are only 24 members allowed into the order at any one time, as is the case for the Garter, it is a rare day indeed to witness an actual investiture. Forget the omnipresent Al Gore and the annually bestowed Nobel Peace Prize. Look who got into the OM.

Insight_focus_nov02_group_largeAbove: Members of the Order of Merit gather at St. James's Palace following a service of thanksgiving for the centenary of the Order, 31 October 2002. Whereas the 24 Knights of the Garter meet annually, the 24 members of the Order of Merit meet only once every five years. They gathered again below just yesterday.

Insight%2520oct07%2520gallery%2520merit%2520largeThe honour is all the more prestigious given the achievements of its members, and given that it is the personal award of the Sovereign. Here the Queen invests Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, with the Insignia of a Member of the Order of Merit at Buckingham Palace, 11 October 2007. The Order was founded in 1902 by King Edward VII and is awarded specifically to scientists, artists, musicians, writers and people active in public life.

Insight%2520oct07%2520gallery%2520berners%2520largeAnother indication of its prestige is that new appointments are not announced in the annual Honours Lists, but are published separately as each appointment is made. The badge is usually presented by The Queen in a private audience at Buckingham Palace.
The Order is granted to members of Commonwealth realms as well as individuals from the UK. Recipients from the Commonwealth have included Mackenzie King and Lester Pearson from Canada (1947); painter Sidney Nolan (1983) and opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland (1991) from Australia; and the historian John Beaglehole from New Zealand in 1970.


JJ said...

Who got it this year?

Beaverbrook said...

The inventor of the world wide web, Tomothy Berners-Lee. The OM is not given out every year, only when one of the 24 existing members passes on, which is the only way room is made for a new entry. As I say, it's a very exclusive honour.

Andrew Cusack said...

And of course Mr. Mandela feels obliged to dress inappropriately for such occasions. But then he is even so casually represented in the form of a statue on Parliament Square. I hope the statue of Field Marshal Smuts scowls at him, or (more charitably, I suppose) whispers a word of sartorial advice.

Beaverbrook said...

I had always assumed those informal looking silk shirts of his were semi-traditional garb of some sort, but I'm going to plead ignorance on that one. As the only honorary member of the OM, I wonder what kept his casual self away this time?