How to Address Him

So, if our detail-obsessed Lord Chancellor had inherited a baronetcy, pursued a second career in the Anglican church and had won the Air Efficiency Award rather than the hot air medal, he would be the Right Honourable the Right Reverend Sir Jack Straw, Bart, PC, MP, LLB, AE. In that order.

Yes, Jack Straw has just published a guide to how to address people with titles. Multiple ones, as above. Like we needed that, eh?

Anyway, here\’s the Worstall guide to the system. It\’s actually the same as with multiple sets of cutlery at the table. Course by course you start with the outside ones and make your way inwards. So it is with titles. Once you\’ve worked out which is the fork equivalent and which the knife (ie, before the name or after, titles are before, medals and awards after) then the more important the award or title the closer to the name it gets.

Lords are higher than admirals, so it\’s Admiral Lord West. VC\’s are higher than MBEs so it\’s Bloggins VC, MBE. That\’s it!


9 thoughts on “How to Address Him”

  1. As someone who will never be offered an ‘honour’, I am in a position to feel embarrased at the continued craving of my medical and scienttific colleagues for this form of quasi-aristocratic distinction awarded by the monarch/ Prime Minister.

    Just look at the honours list – loads of doctors, loads of scientist, loads of academics in general. Most of these folk would – like Jack Straw – be politically left of centre, and would put themselves forward as egalitarians or even class-warriors.

    Now – I have nothing against honours as such – for example a Felowship of the Royal Society (for science) or of the British Academy (for the arts and humanities) is a deservedly sought-after and prestigious distinction awarded by specialist peers. In effect these awards are part of the status systems related to specific social functions.

    But a system of honours administered by the government is simply a hangover from the bad old days when there were no distinct social functions and class meant everything. Honours are a form of ‘ennoblement’ which create and perpetuate political power over what should be politically-independent social functions (like medicine and science).

    For example, the Knighthoods in medicine are very obviously used to buy senior doctors’ cooperation, so that they operate as Quislings for the government and against the medical profession.

    Now – if their cooperation was being bought with money, we would know what was going-on. It would be transparent bribery and corruption – for all to see.

    But the honours system trades in rewards of prestige; and it is apparently fine to bribe people into cooperating with a Knighthood or Peerage – when hard cash would be unacceptable.

    Let’s be open and honest about this. Rewards and incentives should be primarily monetary so they are transparent and quantifiable – and not in terms of qualitative royal approval – then we will know where we are.

  2. Service rank always comes first, e.g. Cdr. the Prince of Wales; HRH Midshipman the Prince Andrew etc., (when they held those ranks of course).

  3. Now tell me the difference betwen Lord Freddie Flintoff and Freddie, Lord Flintoff.

    Tim adds: One has the title in his own right the other is a courtesy title: say, second or third son of a Earl, just as an example.

  4. Thanks. But which is which and how am I to remember?

    Tim adds: Erm, in academia, do you meet enough younger sons of Earls, Marquis’ and Dukes for it to be important? I thought Cambridge had got over that now?

  5. Handling the eating utensils more or less properly is almost more than I can manage. Much as I respect the English traditions that went into formation of the U.S., this crap drives home what a great stroke it was to have broken the ties back in the 1700s.

    Reminds me that an English journalist in Paris asked Ben Franklin (on the latter’s return from a tour of European capitals and cultural sites), “Which would you choose if you could take one of Europe’s great cultural achievements back to America with you?” After a pause to think for a moment, Franklin said that he didn’t think Europe had much to teach America about culture. “Except,” he said, “I’d very much like to take back the recipe for making a good mozzarella cheese.”

    On the other hand, Mark Twain wrote a piece titled “Does the Race of Man Dearly Love a Lord?” in which he pretty much answered the question in the affirmative. I always knew there was something very wrong with the whole lot.

  6. But back to the original article, as far as Jack Straw’s concerned “oi, cunt!” is more than good enough for him.

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