Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Two new knights of the Garter

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Buckingham Palace has announced that the former heads of the Bank of England and MI5 have been appointed to the Order of the Garter by The Queen.
Mervyn King was made Knight Companion and Eliza Manningham-Buller was appointed Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
The Lord King and Baroness Manningham-Buller fill two of the three vacancies that were open due to the deaths of Baroness Thatcher, Lord Kingsdown and Viscount Ridley. The number of Companions no stands at 23 out of the 24 allowed.
I don't like these appointments. There should be no damned merit in the Garter, only noble blood. But Lady Manningham-Buller seems like a good egg and is the daughter of Viscount Dilhorne, Harold Macmillan's last Lord Chancellor. He was, it seems, an unpleasant man - I loved R.F.V. Heuston's character assassination of him in his Lives of the Lord Chancellors 1940-1970, perhaps the funniest book I ever read, even funnier than his volume covering 1885 to 1940.

I wondered when the order was opened to women and thought it was a new-fangled development but it was brought in by King Edward VII according to Rafe Heydel Mankoo. Although King Edward VII, as Prince of Wales, coined the phrase 
We are all socialists now
he was not a left-wing firebrand. Nevertheless, I rather wish he had left this ancient mediaeval order of chivalry all-male. After all King Arthur's knights did not include any dames. Appoint dames, by all means, but it might have been better to have kept them out of the ancient orders of knighthood and make them knights bachelor, or perhaps I mean dames spinster.

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