honours


honours
Twice a year several hundred British people who have distinguished themselves in some way receive a variety of honours. A few are given life peerages, some are made knights, and many others are given lesser awards. The honours lists are published on New Year’s Day (the New Year Honours) and in mid June on the present Queen’s official birthday (the Birthday Honours). At the end of each parliament before a general election, the Prime Minister recommends a list of politicians for the Dissolution Honours.
  For a long time honours were given almost automatically to senior members of the armed forces and the Civil Service, and to those who had contributed to party political funds. In 1993 John Major announced a reduction in the number of such honours and said that more awards were to be given to members of the public nominated for honours by colleagues and friends, or by people who admire their achievements. The Ceremonial Secretariat receives nominations and draws up a final list which is approved by the prime minister. As well as the names of politicians and businessmen, it contains charity workers, well-known sports and television personalities, actors, musicians, etc, and many ordinary people. Honours are awarded by the king or queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
  Many of the honours are associated with one of several orders of chivalry. Some of the orders have different grades of membership, e.g. ‘knight’, ‘commander’, ‘officer’ and ‘member’. Many people are given awards in the Order of the British Empire. Famous people may be given a CBE (commander rank) or OBE (officer rank); people recommended by members of the public are usually given an MBE (member rank). Some people think the Order of the British Empire should be renamed to get rid of the outdated reference to the Empire, but in 2004 it was decided that the name should not be changed. Most honours allow a person to put the appropriate letters after their name. In addition to these honours there are many medals and decorations for bravery, for civilians as well as for members of the police and the armed forces.
  In the US there is no system of honours like that in Britain, though a number of medals are awarded for outstanding achievement or for bravery. These include the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

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Universalium. 2010.

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