There can be few more exciting ways to begin a year than by being honoured by Queen Elizabeth II – especially if, like us, you’re fascinated by the British Royal Family and its traditions. The Queen’s New Year Honours List is released annually by Buckingham Palace and shortly before 1 January is published in The Gazette, Britain’s official record of public life. Every year, the list includes the names of hundreds of people who’ve been selected to receive honours in celebration of their achievements.
The New Year Honours reward citizens of not only Britain, but also the 15 other Commonwealth realms (i.e. the countries in which the Queen is the head of state). For example, some of 2020’s honourees come from Barbados, The Bahamas and Grenada.
The Queen is the ‘fountain of honour’; she alone has the power to confer titles of nobility and similar honours on her subjects. (In addition to the New Year Honours, a second list is published to coincide with the Queen’s official birthday in June.)
Reviewing Nominations and Finalising the List
If you believe someone you know deserves an honour, you can nominate that person via the British government’s website. (You can’t nominate yourself, sadly!)
Nominations are reviewed by honours committees, which consist of civil servants and independent experts. The committees decide which honour would be most appropriate in each case. A list of the successful nominations is sent to the Queen, who informally approves them. The proposed honourees are then contacted by letter; when they’ve indicated whether they wish to accept the honours or not, the list is finalised.
The Honours System Rewards Diverse Achievements
The honours system is complex, steeped in tradition and encompasses both civilian and military life (the Royal Family’s website lists the many kinds of honour bestowed by the monarch). In a nutshell, the recipient of an honour is likely to be admitted to one of several orders of chivalry, the most prestigious of which is the Order of the Garter, which was established in the 14th century. The idea of chivalric orders conjures up images of medieval knights and noblemen, but in modern times the orders are best thought of as exclusive societies. Some honours are divided into classes, denoting different levels of achievement.
To understand more clearly how all this works, let’s look at some of the most commonly awarded honours. Many individuals recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List become Members, Officers or Commanders of the Order of the British Empire. They’re entitled to place MBE, OBE or CBE after their names. Receiving one of these honours signifies that you’ve made an important contribution to your chosen field.
The list briefly indicates why each honouree has been chosen. In 2020, MBEs, OBEs and CBEs have been awarded for services to everything from cricket to medical research, which gives you a sense of the scope of the New Year Honours.
Knights and Dames are Outstanding Individuals
The most coveted honours are arguably knighthoods and damehoods. They capture the public’s – and media’s – attention, especially when the recipients are famous. If you’re honoured in this way, you’re likely to be highly respected in your chosen field and will have made an outstanding contribution to it.
The Queen’s 2020 New Year Honours List revealed that the star of the classic film Grease, Olivia Newton-John, has earned a damehood, while two Oscar-winning directors, Steve McQueen and Sam Mendes, have been given knighthoods.
Like the other individuals on the list, they’ll attend investiture ceremonies at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. The Queen or another senior member of the Royal Family will present each honouree with an ornate medal, symbolising the honour. Knights are lightly touched on their shoulders with a knighting sword.
Sir, Dame and Other Special Titles Enhance Your Status
Surely the biggest advantage of being awarded a knighthood or damehood by the Queen is that you’re granted a title of nobility: Sir or Dame. You’re likely to command greater respect and receive preferential treatment at restaurants, hotels and elsewhere as a result.
What can you do if you’d love a taste of the high life but haven’t been named on the New Year Honours List? The answer is to purchase a decorative title from us at Elite Titles. While this isn’t the same as receiving a title of nobility, it’s still an excellent, legal way to enhance your status. Why not become a Sir or Dame – or choose another non-seated title or seated title – for show purposes? Doing so could lead to all sorts of benefits.
Upgrade your lifestyle with one of our decorative titles and see where it takes you!