JG - Honours, awards and titles
Honours, awards and titles
published: Saturday February 11, 2006
IN 1968, Parliament approved a proposal by Prime Minister Hugh Shearer for the introduction of Jamaican National Honours, instead of the former British National Honours which were bestowed on Jamaicans by the British Monarch for some three centuries.
The Jamaican honours were equated to the British honours. Instead of Knighthoods, for example, there were the Orders of Jamaica (O.J.), and instead of the Orders of St. Michael and St. George and of the British Empire (CMG and CBE) there were the Orders of Distinction, Commander Class and Officer Class (CD and OD).
Interestingly, the men who were bestowed with Knighthoods received the title Sir and their wives were Lady. If, however and it never happened in Jamaica a woman was elevated to the rank of Knighthood, she was designated Dame while her husband remained plain Mr. When we introduced the equivalent Orders of Jamaica, wives of male OJs were not accorded the title Lady or an equivalent. And husbands of women who were awarded this Order remained Mr. From then on, it was decided, only the Governors-General as the representative of the Monarch could accept British Honours save for the Royal Victorian Order which was a personal award by the Monarch.
ONE STEP FURTHER
In 1972, the new Government which took office went one step further. It decided that future Governors-General could not accept British Honours. It is understood that Florizel Glasspole asked that he should be allowed to take the honour but this was refused by the Government. Instead he was given the title of "His Excellency the Most Honourable" and his wife "Her Excellency the Most Honourable".
When the Government changed in 1980 he was allowed to be Knighted. His successor was also Knighted, and we can assume that the incoming Governor-General will also become a Knight.
To me, it is clear that this and other British honours such as 'Queen's Counsel' will never be disposed of until Jamaica becomes a Republic. And with so many attorneys in the Cabinet, and probably in any future Cabinet, the change to Republican status is far in the future.
To Jamaicans, British honours have the same status as foreign-made products. During the 1970s Michael Manley did not accept appointment to the Monarch's Privy Council. When he lost the election in the 1980 he was divested of the title 'Honourable' and for the following nine years was just Mr. When he returned to office in 1989, he accepted the Privy Councilship and became Right Honourable for life.
Some years ago, it was decided that as it is in the United States, so it should be in Jamaica, and so Jamaican Ambassadors, High Commissioners and some Consuls-General have held the title of Ambassador for life.
This practice may well be extended to other officials in future years. So that Cabinet Ministers would retain the title of Honourable for life and be referred to as "Mr. or Madam Minister". So, too, should Mayors and Councillors and Custodes. Then we would not have to refer to them as 'former this or that' as they would be so in perpetuity.