The Belfast Gazette (like its London and Edinburgh sister publications) is a weekly “government” publication. Usually it just lists things like bankruptcies and “royal” business.
Twice a year, it lists the New Year and Birthday “Honours”.
About 45 years ago, I was asked by the Editor to proof read the Honours List with him. As I read thru the names I stopped…….”Edward Ger……..Eddie that’s you”
And Eddie smiled, put his finger to his lips to indicate that this was “Top Secret” stuff. Eddie had been awarded one of the minor honours. As a civil servant for around 35 years, I have had colleagues who received minor honours.
The Honours system is a peculiar thing.
In Norn Ireland last year, around 90 people received an honour.
As far as I can make out four people received the Order of the Bath (sic) or Royal Victorian Order. They were senior civil servants. Another nine received the Queens Police Medal.
But the bulk of the baubles were six CBEs (Commander of the British Empire), nine OBEs (Officers of the British Empire), 28 MBEs (Members of the British Empire) and 39 BEMs (British Empire Medals).
No doubt, within the context of a midwife, who has spent forty years delivering babies in the Scottish Highlands or a firefighter who has spent a lifetime in daily danger, then honours are justified.
But the hierarchy in these awards means that some very worthy people go unrecognised. They are simply a cover for the major awards of Peerages (Lordships), Knighthoods/Damehoods to retired politicians, bankers, captains of industry, chancellors of universities and celebrities in sport and entertainment.
Membership of the House of Lords is membership of the British parliament and bestows lifelong voting rights on retired politicians and political donors. And they get a daily allowance for just turning up and signing in.
Knighthoods and Damehoods…….as in “Sir Ian McKellen”, “Sir Michael Caine”, “Dame Helen Mirren”, “Dame Judi Dench”, “Sir Elton John” does not carry any political importance and as much the preserve of chairmen of banks, senior civil servants as the increasing number of celebs.
The lower orders ….CBE, OBE, MBE, BEM are the bottom of the pyramid that keeps the whole farce going.
Increasingly the dubious qualities of people awarded major honours has taken a shine off these medals. Can Owen Paterson, a former Cabinet minister, MP for 24 years and mired in scandal really be elevated to the Lords? Would he have to stay under the radar for a few years?
This year, Daniel Craig has been mentioned (a knighthood) but I would think William Roache (who has played Ken Barlow in Coronation Street for 61 years must be in the running. And maybe Jimmy Tarbuck and Adele.
The thing is that the secrecy is never really secrecy.
News camera crews and newspaper journalists will have already been despatched to interview the some celebs and a midwife or COVID nurse.