by Stephen Andrews
Did you have a good Platinum Jubilee weekend? Shigeri and I went along to see the air-display flying over Buckingham Palace. It was brilliant! Sadly, we didn’t see the Queen!
If you’ve watched some of the TV programmes that have been on lately, you’ll probably have been amazed at just how many duties the Queen has.
For example, you may have seen a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in which she makes someone a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’, or awards medals like an ‘MBE’ or ‘OBE’. This is known as giving someone an official honour.
The Queen has the sole right of giving them to deserving people from all walks of life, in public recognition of their service or bravery. These can be made for an outstanding achievement in sport, the arts, public service, or for military bravery.
The most well-known honours are the CBE, which stands for Commander of the British Empire, followed in importance by the OBE, meaning Order of the British Empire, and then the MBE, which means Member of the British Empire. Lots of famous people you may know have been given them.
Famous CBEs: Stephen Hawking (scientist), Helena Bonham Carter (actress)
Famous OBEs: J.K. Rowling (author), Keira Knightley (actress)
Famous MBEs: Ed Sheeran (musician), Harry Kane (footballer)
What is a Knight or Dame?
Being awarded a Knighthood or becoming a Dame is one of the highest honours the Queen can give. The honour of Knighthood comes from olden times, as does the way it’s awarded, by the Queen touching a sword onto the shoulder of the recipient.
Men who receive this honour are given the title ‘Sir’, while women receiving the honour are called ‘Dame’ and it is given for an exceptional achievement.
Famous Knights: Sir Paul McCartney (musician), Sir Ian McKellen (actor)
Famous Dames: Dame Judi Dench (actress), Dame Mary Berry (chef and food writer)
Who gets an award?
Anybody in the UK can make a recommendation for a British national to receive an honour. This ensures that many people who are not in the public eye are recognised for their valuable service, perhaps to charity, to the emergency services, or to their industry or profession.
A special government committee then decides who gets an award. The committee's decisions go to the prime minister and then, finally, to the Queen.
Honours recipients are announced twice a year, once in the New Year's Honours List, and once on the Queen's official birthday.
Not everyone wants an honour and people are allowed to turn down the award if they want. For example, David Bowie turned down his.
Also, people can have their honour taken away from them if they behave in a bad way.
There are lots of other awards given by the Queen.
There are several different honours exclusively for rewarding bravery and outstanding service in the Armed Forces, the highest of which is The Victoria Cross, which is awarded for gallantry.
The second highest, The George Cross, is awarded to both military and civilians for acts of the greatest heroism, or for courage in extreme danger.
The newest is The Elizabeth Cross, introduced in 2009 to recognise families who have lost loved ones as a result of conflict or terrorism.
The Police, Fire and Ambulance Services also have their own medals for distinguished service or bravery. These are The Queen’s Police Medal, The Queen’s Fire Service Medal and The Queen’s Ambulance Medal.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the awards the Queen gives to people in the UK. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve done anything important enough to get a Knighthood, unless of course writing this blog counts!