How would you reform the honours system? | Open thread

Kristin Scott Thomas and Joan Collins have become dames, hundreds have joined the Order of the British Empire. But is this the best way to reward talent and achievement?

The New Year honours are designed to recognise the good endeavours of British citizens, from the exalted to the ordinary. With the Queen’s birthday list, it keeps the ranks of Companions of Honour and Lieutenants of the Royal Victorian Order well stocked. Anyone can nominate an individual to receive an honour, and the selection is made by the Cabinet Office.

Is this democratic enough? Should all references to the now defunct British empire be eradicated? Should new categories replace the many obscure orders of merit and chivalry? Or is the system, with its deep historical roots and impartial civil service oversight, working well as it is?

If you were put in charge of reforming the honours system, what, if anything, would you change?

Open thread

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
OBE for Network Rail manager after Christmas chaos in London
David Ward gets New Year honour for services to industry despite outcry over late-running engineering works

Rowena Mason and Mark Tran

31, Dec, 2014 @12:03 AM

Article image
The Guardian view on the honours system: time for a shake-up | Editorial
Editorial: Prime ministers have too much patronage. If Boris Johnson really wants to break up the elites, he should reform the honours system


29, Dec, 2019 @6:29 PM

MPs to investigate 'secretive' honours system
MPs will undertake a review of the "wholly secretive" government honours system in the new year following a series of damaging leaks and a torrent of criticism of the selection process, it emerged today.

Liane Katz and agencies

22, Dec, 2003 @10:34 AM

Article image
The Guardian's alternative New Year honours: your suggestions
Cocking a gentle snook at the British honours system, Guardian writers made their own list of people worthy of honour in 2015. Here is a baker’s dozen of suggestions from readers

Guardian readers and James Walsh

30, Dec, 2015 @1:17 PM

Article image
An honours system for those who fight to make Britain a better place | Owen Jones

Owen Jones: If we're going to have honours, they should surely reflect people's social worth – not reward wealthy parasites

Owen Jones

01, Feb, 2012 @3:06 PM

Article image
Tory donor knighted in New Year honours
Sir Theodore Agnew, who gave party £134,000 between 2007 and 2009, sponsors a chain of academies and free schools

Rowena Mason, political correspondent

30, Dec, 2014 @10:30 PM

Article image
Here’s how to make New Years honours more honourable – let the public decide | Hugh Muir
Among the Barbara Windsors and Dorothy Starts are enough politically motivated recipients to suggest the system isn’t just unethical, it’s harmful

Hugh Muir

31, Dec, 2015 @10:14 AM

Article image
The Guardian’s alternative New Year’s honours: we salute you
We celebrate the heroes of 2015 – those people who deserve our admiration and thanks, and to whom we would give our own Guardian medal of honour

Guardian writers

29, Dec, 2015 @6:00 AM

Article image
Honours committees ‘pressured by No 10 to reward Tory donors’
Former committee members tell Channel 4 News investigation of efforts made to persuade them to toe line

Nadeem Badshah

21, Dec, 2022 @11:48 PM

Government accused of sexing up the honours list
The government was accused of abusing the honours system yesterday after a leaked document suggested the tennis player Tim Henman was recommended for an OBE to 'add interest' to the list.

Mark Oliver

15, Dec, 2003 @2:47 AM