84 How does the honours system work?
does ‘Right Honourable’ mean?
should I address someone with a title?
is the order of precedence for royalty, peers etc?
84 How does the honours system
British honours are awarded on
merit, for exceptional achievement or service. In 1993 the then Prime
Minister, John Major, ended the automatic practice of conferring awards on
the holders of certain posts, opening the honours system to more people -
particularly those in the voluntary sector - who qualify on merit. Most
honours are announced in one of the two annual sets of honours lists - one
at New Year and the other in June, on the Queen’s official birthday. The
Queen chooses the recipients of honours on the advice of the Prime
Minister and other relevant ministers, to whom recommendations are made by
their departments or members of the public.
The various honours
Life Peers: These titles are not hereditary and are the only
form of peerage regularly created by the Queen nowadays.
baronetcy is a heritable honour - a title that is passed on to male
Knighthoods: Knights may be either Knights Bachelor, or members
of one of the Orders of Chivalry. The honour of knighthood derives from
the usages of medieval chivalry, as does the method normally used to
confer the knighthood: the accolade, or touch of a sword by the Sovereign.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:
this award is
given mainly to civilians and service personnel for public service and
other distinctions. The OBE and MBE are the two orders most commonly
awarded to men and women for services to their country.
85 What does ‘Right Honourable’ mean?
Right Honourable (Rt Hon) is the form of address used for people
holding the following titles or offices: an earl or countess, a viscount,
a baron, a Lord Mayor (the title given to the Mayor of London and other
large cities) and a Privy Councillor. All Cabinet ministers are members of
the Privy Council, the private council of the Sovereign. The full title
appears in the form ‘The Right Honourable the Earl of Derby’, for
86 How should I
address someone with a title?
Information on the protocol of
addressing holders of honours and titles can be found in ‘Whitaker’s
Almanac’ (published annually) and ‘Debrett’s Correct Form’ (Webb and
87 What is the order
of precedence for royalty, peers etc?
The order of precedence in England
and Wales is as follows:
The Sovereign; The Duke of Edinburgh; The
Prince of Wales; The Sovereign’s younger sons; The Sovereign’s grandsons;
The Sovereign’s cousins; The Archbishop of Canterbury; Lord High
Chancellor; Archbishop of York; The Prime Minister; Lord High Treasurer;
Lord President of the Council; Speaker of the House of Commons; Lord Privy
Seal; Ambassadors and High Commissioners.
Peers rank among themselves
1. of England, 2. of Scotland, 3. of Great Britain, 4. of
Ireland, 5. of UK and Ireland.
Precedence among those with honours and
Dukes; Marquesses; Earls; Viscounts; Barons; Knights of the
Knights of the Thistle and other orders; Knights
The Archbishop of Canterbury takes precedence in
England and Wales after Royal Princes, while Bishops rank above barons but
In Scotland precedence alters as follows: The
Sovereign; The Duke of Edinburgh; The Lord High Commissioner to the
General Assembly (while that Assembly is sitting); The Duke of Rothesay
(eldest son of the Sovereign); The Sovereign’s younger sons;
Sovereign’s cousins; Lord Lieutenant of Counties; Lords Provost of
Counties of Cities; Sheriffs Principal; Lord Chancellor of Great Britain;
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; The Prime
Full details can be found in ‘Whitaker’s Almanac’ or