Queen urged to ‘be more transparent’ as number of disgraced honours doubles in a decade
Queen: Expert discusses how monarch is ‘rarely criticised’
Every year, the Queen awards honours to people across the UK for their efforts and achievements to society, with 414 “unsung heroes” from the Covid pandemic being awarded last year. However, during her 69-year reign, the Queen has also cancelled honours from 186 people due to criminal convictions or professional misconduct, with an average of three people being dishonoured in a year. Some of the figures have included figures such as dictators Robert Mugabe and Nicolae Ceausescu, as well as tax evader jockey Lester Piggott and former ministers John Profumo and Chris Huhne.
But it has now been revealed in an investigation by the Times that the number of people being dishonoured has more than doubled over the last 10 years.
This is due to the Cabinet Office, which manages the honours forfeiture committee for the Queen, does not publish annual figures or publicly give reasons about why individuals have been disgraced.
Elizabeth Yardley, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, called for more transparency over the reasons why people are stripped of their honours, as it is in the “public interest”.
She told the Times: “I think [the committee] should be more transparent.
The Queen has been urged to be “more transparent” over disgraced honours (Image: GETTY)
“If there’s sufficient evidence to say that this person is not deserving of this honour then surely it’s in the public interest to know that.”
Ms Yardley added that it was often hard to uphold accusations against criminals such as child sex offenders when their accolades and honours acted as “armour”.
She said: “There’s very much an intention to be recognised and gain accolades for the wonderful charity work that you’ve done.
“The more you put on this armour the more difficult it is to make accusations stick.”
The Queen awards honours to people across the UK for their efforts and achievements to society (Image: GETTY)
The honours were set up in 1917 by King George V, and are split into civilian and military divisions, with the most senior of which make the recipient into a knight or dame.
The removal of honours, which is officially called “forfeiture”, happens when someone is deemed to have brought the honours system into disrepute.
In 2013, the Government refused a request to set up an independent body that would be overseen by a retired High Court judge, to avoid those who are disgraced being “shamed further”.
In its official response, the Government said at the time: “It does not believe that public show trials which would serve to shame further the individuals concerned are appropriate to the dignity of the honours system.”
In September last year, disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had his honorary CBE removed.
During her 69-year reign, the Queen has cancelled honours from 186 people (Image: EXPRESS)
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The announcement was published in The Gazette, which is the UK’s official public record.
The notice said: “The Queen has directed that the appointment of Harvey Weinstein to be an Honorary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, dated 29 January 2004, shall be cancelled and annulled and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.”
Other figures over recent years have included disgraced children’s entertainer Rolf Harris, who was stripped of his CBE in 2015 after being found guilty of sex attacks on girls aged as young as seven.
Broadcaster Stuart Hall was also stripped of his OBE in 2013 following his conviction for sex offences against children.
The Queen awarded 414 “unsung heroes” from the Covid pandemic with honours last year (Image: GETTY)
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman did not provide a comment when contacted by the Times.
The Cabinet Office said that it had increased transparency in recent years by explaining how the system worked and by appointing independent members to the forfeiture committee.
It said in a statement: “The vast majority of forfeiture decisions are published — including those relating to child sex abuse.
“Any exceptions to this reflect the broader duty of care considerations.”
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