In centuries past, men could only be knighted for some kind of military bravery or prowess, but since 1917, by proclamation of King George V the reigning British monarch at the time, Britain has been awarding memberships into The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, better known as British Order of Knighthood, to reward both civilian and military wartime service, to men and women, which makes sense since women are in the military now, and there are often civilian participants in some operations of war.

If that was the only change, it might have been ok, but in 1918, a separate military division of the order was created, that allowed persons of renown (basically celebrities) to be brought into the order as well. The five classes of both civil and military divisions, listed in descending order and conferred on men and women equally, are Knight and Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight and Dame Commander (KBE and DBE, respectively), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), and Member (MBE). Conferment of the two highest classes entails admission into knighthood, if the candidate is not already a knight or dame, and the right to the title of “Sir” or “Dame” as appropriate. (Knights and Dames Grand Cross, together with Knights of the Garter and of the Thistle, may be granted the use of supporters with their arms.) Appointments are usually made on the recommendation of the British Secretary of State for Defense and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. It seems strange to me that it would happen like that.

I understand that they were trying to include more people, but in doing so, it seems to me that the honor is cheapened, somehow. These days, being knighted holds a much different meaning than it used to. Nations with a monarch as their head of state would, once upon a time, issue knighthoods to their loyal subjects and foreign citizens who have done great deeds for their country. Today, you can still earn a knighthood through military prowess, but you can also earn one if your artistic, scientific, or civil service “shines greatly” upon the crown. Really?? Of course, you could also be a genocidal Marxist dictator who overthrows the government and you’ll eventually be knighted…or you could just be a penguin…I mean it!!! To me, being knighted for anything other than extraordinary service to the country makes the award of little to no value. I don’t dispute these actors and others right to recognition, it’s just that knighthood doesn’t seem the place for it.

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