Move Beyond Empire – Updating The British Honours System

by | Jun 18, 2020

Our clear position on the names of the UK Honours is that recipients should start to be offered a choice to break the link with the Empire. We are launching a petition to send to the Government to encourage this change.

The awarding and receiving of Queen’s Honours should be a wholly positive experience. It is a celebration of the outstanding work and achievements of individuals from all walks of life.

Yet some recipients still feel unable to accept their award. There are many reasons for this, but one often cited is the association with the British Empire. While some people still value the association, others are deeply hurt by its history of slavery and brutality. And others argue that it is anachronistic, as the Empire no longer exists.

Recommendations were previously made to move away from Order of the British Empire to Order of British Excellence in a report written for the Government. However, the Government was nervous about this move – citing the potential upset it could cause to those already in the Order. It was therefore rejected.

But what about everyone else? What about people, especially those from our black communities, who feel pain and upset when presented with a possible association with the Empire and all it stands for?

We therefore request that, if we cannot abolish the Order of the Empire completely, we can at least give people a choice. And given that ‘Excellence’ is a more inclusive proposition, we believe that the Order of British Excellence should be the automatic opt in, with Order of the British Empire available for those who still value its legacy.

In giving people a choice we are democratising the system. And now, more than ever, we’ve a good reason to make that change.

The Independent have also featured the campaign.

If you would like to lend your support to this change, please sign our petition at

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