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ACM Home arrow Knights & Dames

Knights & Dames

 

King George V knights Sir John Monash on the battlefield

[King George V knights Sir John Monash on the battlefield]


In 1975, on the recommendation of the Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, The Queen approved the creation of a three level Order of Australia.

The government intended that it would supersede all other honours for Australian purposes.

The Queen is the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia and the Governor-General is the Principal Companion. As Chancellor, the Governor-General is charged with the administration of the Order. The Official Secretary to the Governor-General is the Secretary of the Order.


...Knights  and Dames....

 

The Fraser Liberal Government (1975–83) began recommending Imperial honours again and added a fourth level of knight (or dame) to the Order of Australia. .

This level was removed by the Hawke Labor Government (1983–91). Proposals to restore this were rejected by the Howard Liberal Government (1996-2007)



...Imperial honours....

 

The awards of knighthoods and ranks in Imperial honours orders continued to be recommended by State Coalition governments, but were suspended under State Labor governments. They were brought to an end by The Queen in 1994.

Knights and dames and others holding Imperial honours retain legal recognition, for instance in the Australian Order of Precedence.



...Sovereign’s personal honours ....

 

The Queen of Australia may  confer honours upon Australians where these emanate from her personally rather than on the advice of government, in particular the Order of the Garter (last awarded to former Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, 1994), the Order of the Thistle (last awarded to former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, 1963), the Order of Merit (last awarded to Dame Joan Sutherland, 1991), the Royal Victorian Order (the Knighthood was last awarded to David Smith, 1990), and the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (for services to St John Ambulance).



...a solution?...



The absence of a fourth level of the Order of Australia makes it difficult to compare with imperial and foreign orders. In the meantime politicians who object to imperial knighthood seem to have no objection to accepting foreign knighthoods, and to seeking approval to the retention of the honorific “ the Honourable”.

Australian honours do not obtain great recognition internationally in contrast with knighthoods – henc ethe high take up of the offer of the New Zealand government to allow certain recitionet of NZ honours to take one.

The objection to knighthood sdoes not seem to be to the knighthood itself but rather to the titles. We have suggested a compromise in these columns based on a precedent offered by bishops of the Church of England.

For some time it has been the practice of Anglican bishops to refuse the accolade, that is the dubbing, the stroke on the shoulder with the sword, and consequently, the title “Sir”.

This is because a knight would once give military service to the king, and the clergy did not think this appropriate for them. 
 So when they accepted a knighthood, they would not them take the title, “Sir”. This was also the practice in Australia among Anglicans, Sir Marcus Loane being an exception.

 

Catholic bishops in Australia would normally take the accolade, and proudly used the title granted by their Sovereign. You can imagine that there might have been a tinge of regret among the Anglican bishops (and their wives) when they read or heard of the activities of, say, Sir Norman Cardinal Gilroy or Archbishop Sir James Duhig. 

Perhaps this Anglican practice provides the solution. Reinstate the AK and the AD, but allow recipients to reject the accolade. Those who don’t want the title could reject the accolade; those who were happy with it could accept it.  Is this the solution?    

 

 

 



Governors-General Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 07 August 2006

ImageMr. Phillip Adams’ ill conceived attack on Sir Robert Menzies’ recommendation of Lord Casey as Governor-General reminded me of Sir Robert’s preferred procedure in such appointments. I was not aware of this until a friend, who had known Sir Robert well, told me that he thought that the practice was that Prime Ministers gave The Queen three choices. 

In the first volume of his memoirs, Afternoon Light, published in 1967, Sir Robert reveals that he had proposed, and The Queen had agreed, on a procedure for the appointment of future Governors-General.  Under this, they would first discuss the kind of person they were looking for. The Prime Minster would then come back with three names, and The Queen would also think of potential nominees. They would then discuss the names, and once they had agreed on someone, the Prime Minster would nominate that person.

 On the first occasion this procedure was followed, it was a spectacular success.  Sir Robert, with The Queen’s approval, had also sought three names from the Marquess of Salisbury, a British statesman whom Sir Robert had grown to respect after initially mistaking his capacity for silence in war time meetings as indicative of a ‘Yes-man’. (The Marquess was a descendant of William Cecil,Lord Burghley, principal minister to Elizabeth 1. As The Guardian (15 July, 2003) said in his obituary, he strikingly lacked the gene of political manipulation that had marked out the Cecils for over four centuries.) 

Sir Robert, fine constitutional lawyer that he was, would have been well aware of the practice agreed at the Imperial Conference in 1930, which provided that the source of advice on the appointment of a Governor-General would no longer be the British ministers, but those of the Dominion, or as we would now say, the Realm concerned. The  procedure also made provision for ‘informal consultation with His Majesty” before formal advice is tendered. Sir Robert,a man of impeccable courtesy and propriety, was also influenced by the fact that the Governor-General was The Queen's representative -in his view Her Majesty should be content with the choice. I wonder whether any Prime Minister, or since 1986, any Premier, has followed Sir Robert’s wise practice?

 

Read more...
 
The Prime Minister and Dame Kiri Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 27 July 2006

Dame Kiri Te  KanawaDame Kiri Te Kanawa, was”honoured” and “thrilled” to be made a Dame in 1982, wrote Frances Whiting in The Sunday Mail, Brisbane, 25 June, 2006. Now in  this column on 12 February, 2006, we referred to  an interesting comment related to this. It was made by a Canadian observer, Mr. Richard Toporoski . He said   that had Nicole Kidman been given a similar award to Dame Kiri’s, this would have been reported widely around the world. Moreover, this honour would be recalled in every reference to her, honouring her and her country. As it was, hardly any overseas news service reported the fact that in 2006 she was made a Companion in the Order of Australia. Today, even most Australians would probably have forgotten.  How different it would be, wrote Mr. Toporoski, if she were Dame Nicole Kidman. This need not be an imperial honour, there was a time when this was a possible award in the Order of Australia. And the Americans would love it.

It is not that republics –or many of them-do not award knighthoods.  We suggested a simple solution to this in this column   on 23 March 2006- allow those who object to the title, accept the honour but decline the accolade - which would mean they could not use the title . So we recommended that  the government reintroduce the fourth rank in the Order of Australia, and offer recipients the option to deny the accolade.  And in the meantime, would those media outlets who introduced a policy of ignoring titles in the increasingly distant politically correct past just get over it.  I saw a reference in a newspaper recently to ‘John Monash’. John Monash. To most of us, that great Australian remains ‘Sir John Monash.’

As Dame Kiri says:“I was brought up to do things properly. So yes, I do expect people who don’t know me to call me by my formal title on informal situations, just as I would afford the same respect to anyone else.  But I certainly would not insist my friends call me that.” You are absolutely right, Dame Kiri.

 

Incidentally, I was phoned recently by Misha Schubert of The Age for a piece she was writing which was published on 26 July, 2006. She asked me, and others, what gift I would suggest for the Prime Minister on his 67th birthday. I said that he become, instead of the ‘Honourable John Howard’, the ‘Right Honourable John Howard’, as all Prime ministers, senor ministers and judges were so described until recently as are Canadians of this rank today. And although he probably would no accept it at this stage, I also suggested he be made a knight in The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, which is in The Queen’s gift, that is Her Majesty is not advised by her ministers in conferring this honour. It is so named because the emblem of the order is the thistle, the national flower of Scotland. Its motto, Nemo me impune lacessit - No one provokes me with impunity - is one which might amuse the Prime Minister and Mrs Howard. You see, Mr. Howard is one of those people who are big enough to forgive those who have harshly disparaged him, including those in politics and the media. .  While I am not aware of an obvious link between Mr Howard and Scotland, the particular link is with his distinguished predecessor, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies, whom Mr Howard particularly admires.

 

 
The ABC-a case of ADHD? Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 07 April 2006

Are some of the the news editors at the ABC merely ignorant and uninformed, or are they conducting a not at all surreptitious republican campaign?

 After reporting that The Queen had indicated her sympathy for a republic in her address in Canberra-Her Majesty did no such thing- I was listening with interest to an ABC report of the  announcement on 4 April 2006 that a judge of Fijian Indian origin had just been appointed Governor- General of New Zealand as ”… THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE BRITISH MONARCHY!”

 As any serious reader of history politics or law would know, the Governor-General of New Zealand represents The Queen of New Zealand, not The Queen of the United Kingdom.

I am beginning to suspect that those who report these things, and their editors, are really victims of the other ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyper-Republicanism Disorder.

Perhaps Senator Coonan could fund a mass inoculation of ABC News against this malady

Read more...
 
Knights and Dames Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 23 March 2006

 We continue to see a need for the restoration of the fourth level of the Order of Australia.

We were delighted to see that the former President of the NSW Legislative Council, now chairman of the board of The Catholic Weekly, Mr. Johno Johnson has been installed as a papal knight in recognition of his distinguished service to the Church in Australia.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, presented Mr. Johnson with the insignia of the Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great at a ceremony at the Polding Centre on Friday, 24 February 2006. This is reported in detail by Kerry Myers on 5 March, 2006 in the Catholic Weekly

We congratulate Mr Johnson, but we still wonder why Australia cannot recognize the contributions of its citizens at this level.

Read more...
 
Order of Australia: A Canadian View Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Sunday, 12 February 2006
Australians may be interested in this assessment of the Order of Australia, which was inspired by the recent award of the AC to Nicole Kidman.

One reservation that should be signalled to this thoughtful and considered view is that awards within the Order of Australia are made in the name of the Sovereign, although the practice of submitting the list of recommendations to The Queen personally was, I believe, abandoned at the direction of the former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

This assessment was posted to the website of the Canadian Monarchist League:

Read more...
 
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