Thursday 28 October 2010

Polish Nobility Association honours: Royal Order of Piast and Royal Order of Jagiellon

The Polish Nobility Association (PNA) is currently located at Villa Anneslie, in Baltimore County, Maryland. The President of the PNA is Dr. “Prince” Roger Chylinski-Polubinski, the founder of a Maryland cooking school. Dr. Chylinski-Polubinski is “Grand Master” of the self-styled Royal Order of Piast and has been decorated with two Orders that have been subjected to severe criticism: commander’s cross of the infamous Order of Polonia Restituta (previously awarded by the late “Count” Juliusz Sokolnicki)  and chevalier grand cross of the self-styled Order of St. Eugene de Trebizond (awarded by “Prince Lascaras-Camnenos” in 1974). 

The organisation appears to attract a number of individuals who might at best be described as "eccentric", perhaps as "well-meaning but deluded", and certainly as largely ignorant (perhaps willfully) or as psychologically flawed "pure fantastists", impervious to the truth.

Several other officers and members of the PNA have also used, or been accorded, pseudo-titles, including so-called “Count” Julius Nowina-Sokolnicki, “Count” Michael Subritzky-Kusza, “Baron” Wlodzimierz Korab-Karpowicz “Count” and “Countess” Basil Kusza-Subritzky, “Baron” Ezra Machinowski and “Count” Theodore Topor-Jakubowski, a retired United States judge. The Polish Nobility Association currently awards the following self-styled “Orders”:

This so-called “Order” was established on 27 January 1927 as a “progressive Order of Chivalry and Merit”. According to the Polish Nobility Association (PNA) web page, the Order’s “purpose is to protect the absolute independence of the Polish Lithuanian States, and the ultimate recovery of the achievements of the Piast Dynasty; through the realization of a project/movement via ‘The Slavic Commonwealth of Nations.’ The main organizer was Rev. Chodkiewicz and other Polish-Lithuanian nobles.”  The “Grand Master” of the Order is Roger Chylinski-Polubinski. The web page also makes the astonishing and quite bizarre claim that “In 1974, the Knights of Sts. Cyril and Methodius were incorporated into the Royal Order of Piast to minimize the number of Orders created by the Polish Kings and continued by the Polish Nobility over a period of years.”  By what right or authority an unrecognised Polish club or group can lay claim to the Order of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, a Royal Order of the King of Bulgaria, is not explained (see


This so-called "Order" was established in 1969 “
to recognize the significant role played by Lithuania and the Lithuanian people in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of Nations.” The founder was Sigmund H. Uminski, former “Grand Chancellor of the Polish Noblility Association Foundation” and a member of one of the self-styled St. John “Orders”, the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta.

According to the web page “
the Supreme Council of the Royal Order of Piast and the Royal Order of Jagiellon has officially registered their Order with the Institute of Orders Researches in West Berlin (in 1974) under Dr. Klietman, Director of the Institute.” The web page neglects to advise that this act is completely meaningless, the "Institute" and its "Doctor" have no recognised international standing and the act of registration carries as much validity as registering them with one's grandmother.

The Polish Nobilty Association states that the Order of Piast and the Order of Jagiellon are “Supreme Orders”, ranking above another five Orders. The Orders are “a
dministered by hereditary Sovereign-Grand Marshalls, appointed Grand Chancellors, and the Chancellors, as well as other functionaries.” The identity of these individuals is not known (see

The seven Orders, in precedence, listed on the PNA web page are:

1. The Royal Order of Piast
2. The Royal Order of Jagiello
3. Order of Saint John the Baptist
4. Imperial Order of Saint Vladimir (May 3, 1791)
5. Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislas (Holy Union)
6. Royal Order of Saint Michael Archangel (Polish Military)
7. Order of S.S. Cyril and Methoduis (incorporated into the Order of the Piast)

What a lot of nonsense.  Caveat Emptor!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Join The Churchill Centre and Churchill War Rooms

As a member of the Churchill Centre (formerly the International Churchill Society) for 20 years, I encourage all interested persons to consider joing The Churchill Centre and Churchill Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms.  Here is the Centre's latest video:

You Tube Video:

The Centre "was founded in 1968 to educate new generations on the leadership, statesmanship, vision, courage and boldness of Winston Spencer Churchill. Over 4000 members around the world, aged from ten to over ninety, work together to impress the record Churchill's life and deeds on the 21st century.

"The Centre sponsors an International Churchill Conference and numerous regional events; Churchill tours in Britain, Australia, France, South Africa and Morocco; academic symposia; student seminars; and the periodic Churchill Lecture, in which prominent world figurews apply Sir Winston’s experience to today’s issues. With grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Centre has conducted highly praised seminars for high school teachers in the USA and UK, to aid their appreciation and use of Churchill's story in their local curricula. The Centre website is a massive array of searchable facts and opinions.

"The Churchill Centre is politically non-partisan, but not apolitical. Its quarterly journal, Finest Hour, often touches on Churchill's political philosophy and its relevance to today's issues. Speakers span the political and cultural spectrum: William F. Buckley, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, Alistair Cooke, William Manchester, members of the Churchill family, and many others.

"While The Churchill Centre's view of its subject is naturally positive, it is not hagiographic and publishes critiques as well as praise. According to Roosevelt-Churchill historian Warren Kimball, "Finest Hour has become a serious (and still entertaining) journal, earning the sobriquet 'The Journal of Winston Churchill,' which has taken Churchill from the clutches of the worshipful and given him over to the appreciative—those who can look at him, warts and all."

"Since 1983, the Patron of The Churchill Centre is The Lady Soames LG DBE, the only surviving daughter of Sir Winston Churchill. From 1970 to 1979, the Patron was The Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

 "How deeply moving it is to me to see how revered is my father's memory, which The Churchill Centre does so much to keep fresh and green."

Daughter of Sir Winston, Patron of The Centre

"The Churchill Centre has achieved an astonishing maintain access to his words is a true historical service, something his future will be very grateful for."

Private Secretary to Sir Winston, 1952-1965

"To the youth of America, as to the youth of all the Britains, I say, 'You cannot stop. It must be world anarchy or world order.  You will find in the British Commonwealth good comrades to whom you are united by other ties besides those of State policy and public need.  Law, language, literature...common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice, and above all the love of personal freedom.  These are common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-Speaking Peoples."

Harvard, 6 September 1943"

For More Information please visit: The Churchill Centre:

Tuesday 19 October 2010

The Toothless Lion: Winston Churchill and the Fate of Poland

The Big Three:
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin

The English-speaking world has long celebrated Winston Churchill as a champion against tyranny and totalitarianism -- a democrat who strove to free enslaved nations from the oppressor’s yoke.  Yet this giant of history is not universally adored. 

Many Poles hold the former British statesman partially responsible for sealing Poland’s post-war fate, dooming it to almost half a century as a Soviet satellite.  These Poles, and their western supporters, allege that Churchill had a fiduciary duty to defend and advance Polish interests but failed to do so—choosing instead to yield to Stalin on the issue of Poland’s eastern frontier and ultimately failing to ensure Poland retained a truly democratic government. Careful consideration of the complicated diplomatic, military and strategic factors with which Winston Churchill, and by extension the British government, had to contend during the latter-half of the Second World War should give this view short shrift.  

An examination of the discussions between Winston Churchill, Polish Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Josef Stalin and, to a far lesser degree, President Franklin Roosevelt, strongly suggests that among the leaders of the Great Powers, Winston Churchill was Poland’s best friend—albeit one who chose to practice ‘tough love’.  Rendered virtually impotent by his country’s military and financial exhaustion, restrained by the lack-lustre support of his American ally, out-maneuvered by a wily Soviet Politburo and frustrated by the intransigence and unrealistic attitude of the Polish Government in Exile, Winston Churchill was afforded very few options with which to defend Polish interests. Churchill’s unenviable predicament, through little fault of his own, would ultimately thwart his good intentions.

That Winston Churchill should have expended so much energy dealing with the exiled government of a distant Eastern European country whilst so many other issues also called for his attention—not least of which was fighting a war against Nazi Germany—may seem rather odd.  Among the Big Three powers, Poland was only of significant strategic importance to the Soviet Union, serving as a corridor between Germany and Russia and, by extension, between Western Europe and Eastern Europe.  British strategic interests were comparatively low in this region and were concentrated far more heavily in Greece and the Mediterranean.  

Winston Churchill and General Wladyslaw Sikorski,
Polish Prime Minister (1939-1943)
Yet Poland was not like other Eastern European nations.   Poland occupied immense symbolic importance for Great Britain; it had been the casus belli underlying Britain’s entry into the Second World War. The British Government was honour bound to preserve Polish independence and pledged to do nothing less.  The interpretation of this pledge and whether it committed Britain to defend Poland’s frontiers as well as its independence would later prove a major thorn in Anglo-Polish relations.  That the Polish Government in Exile was based in London, had many important British political allies, and commanded a significant Polish army ready to fight alongside the British were other factors of considerable weight.   

Winston Churchill also believed Poland to be of supreme importance as a ‘test case’ through which the Western Allies could gauge Soviet post-war intentions, trustworthiness and willingness to work with the west.  Not surprisingly, given British commitments to Poland and Soviet interests in Poland, the fate of this European nation was also a considerable threat to Anglo-Soviet relations.  The Polish issue was therefore of profound significance to Churchill.

Any hope Churchill may have had for sincere, committed American support in dealing with the Polish Government and negotiating with Joseph Stalin was short-lived.  The American attitude to the Polish question was at best one of casual interest.  The United States had not declared war over Poland and had not made any guarantees to the Polish Government.  Washington consequently felt little moral obligation to support either the Polish Government in Exile or Poland’s frontiers.  The United States did participate in some discussions regarding Poland’s future but any statement it made in support of Polish interests was largely due to its sizable ethnic-Polish voting population and the American-initiated Atlantic Charter. 

The Atlantic Charter bound the United States and the United Kingdom to oppose any territorial aggrandizement or territorial changes which ran contrary to the wishes of the people immediately concerned. It also supported the right of peoples to choose their own forms of government.  As far as Poland was concerned, however, Roosevelt did not believe the Atlantic Charter bound the United States to advocate for any particular Polish Government or territorial boundary.  Furthermore, the United States government viewed the Polish Government in Exile with suspicion.  As far as the Americans were concerned the fact that some members of the government had never been elected called into question claims that the government represented the Polish population. Its close relationship with the British Government also led some in Washington to suspect that the government would be manipulated by London.

Roosevelt’s primary diplomatic concern was to convince the Soviet Union that the west harboured no ill will towards them.  Eager to seek Soviet assistance in the war against Japan and also in the establishment on a United Nations Organisation, Roosevelt quite simply viewed the Polish dilemma as little more than an obstacle to the cementing of ties of friendship between the Soviet Union and the west.  Roosevelt was of the opinion that once close ties were established the Soviet Union would have little reason to worry about its security and therefore would be unlikely to be difficult in negotiations regarding the future of Eastern Europe.  With lack-lustre American support, the Polish problem was quite clearly one which fell largely upon Churchill’s shoulders.

After the war, when Poland’s fate was sealed, Churchill would gloomily write that this nation’s plight was “the first of the great causes which led to the breakdown of the wartime alliance”.  The first unmistakable signs of the impending breakdown became evident in April 1943 with the German discovery at Katyn of a mass grave containing approximately 10,000 Polish officers. The Polish Government, and unofficially the British Government, suspected the Soviet Union to have perpetrated the crime. It is from this point that Winston Churchill found it necessary to play an active role in attempting to find a solution to what would become known as the “Polish problem.”

Churchill had found the Soviet attitude towards Poland abhorrent but without the support of Franklin Roosevelt, Churchill knew the only possibility of the survival of a democratic Polish Government was for that government to make concessions. The Polish Government’s failure to agree to the settlement proposals put forth by Winston Churchill in the months between April 1943 and July 1944 destroyed any hope, however slim that hope may have ever been, of securing Poland’s independence in the post-war world.  Whether Poland could ever have escaped the clutches of Josef Stalin is, in hindsight, doubtful. But this cannot be blamed on Churchill. .

It was Churchill who offered the Polish Government a chance of survival as an independent government. Yet they chose not to avail themselves of what was undoubtedly their best chance of survival . It was Churchill who tried to cajole his American counterpart into throwing his considerable weight behind Poland. Yet Roosevelt was not interested. It was Churchill who stood up to Stalin in an attempt to extract as favourable a deal as possible for the Polish Government—in so doing, placing vitally important Anglo-Soviet relations in a most precarious position. Yet Stalin was content to let time work in his favour.

Winston Churchill was sailing the British ship of state between Scylla and the Charybdis.  The precious freight was the continued goodwill of Anglo-Soviet relations and also Britain’s honour-bound guarantee to protect Polish independence. The journey was perilous and even the most masterful captain would have been unlikely to save the entire cargo.

Friday 15 October 2010

HM The Queen cancels Christmas Party -- Watch my interview

My interview on CTV News (Canada) discussing news that HM The Queen has cancelled this year's Christmas party. To view it please click on THIS LINK and then on my name in right hand margin. Interview will play after 15 second commercial. Alternatively, should that fail, click on this link:

Wednesday 13 October 2010

The New Zealand Royal Honours System -- An Example for Canada? PART TWO

Lessons for Canada

How can the Canadian honours system benefit from the New Zealand experience?

Although Canada was the first Commonwealth realm (outside the United Kingdom) to establish its own honours system, lack of foresight on the part of its administrators has led to a haphazard, and unsatisfactory, evolution. To draw a comparison with architecture, the current system resembles much less the intelligent and aesthetically pleasing design of a single architect but appears more as a house on to which several builders have hastily built a number of uninspiring extensions, some better than others. By contrast, the New Zealand Royal Honours System, as currently constituted, was the product of intelligent design and functions effectively and pleasingly. Fortunately for Canada, many of the key features of the New Zealand System are easily transferable.

Although the political climate renders it unlikely, the Canadian system would be vastly improved were citizens of all of The Queen’s realms made eligible for substantive appointments. Similarly, it seems quite logical to expect all awards in the Canadian honours system to be made in the name of The Queen rather than the Governor General. It is The Queen, after all, who is the Sovereign of every Order and, more generally, the fount of all Canadian honours.

As unlikely as it is that such changes will be made any time soon, given the fractured and unfocussed manner in which the Canadian honours system has evolved, I believe it is useful to suggest other, less politically sensitive reforms, the most urgent of which pertain to the status and structure of the Order of Canada. As Canada’s most prestigious Order, the Order of Canada should rank alongside the Order of Merit or the Order of New Zealand. Yet whilst these last two are single class orders of very restricted membership, hundreds if not thousands of people have received the Order of Canada.  The highest rank of companion is restricted to 165, yet this far exceeds the number of members who may belong to the Order of New Zealand at any one time. Indeed, in Canada, a country with a  population half that of the United Kingdom, there may be more companions of the Order of Canada than the combined total number of UK members of the Order of the Companions of Honour, the Order of Merit, the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle!

Canada requires a premier-ranked honour that distinguishes the truly outstanding from those who are merely very accomplished. Such an honour, be it the highest class of a multi-class order or a new single-class honour, should be limited to a far smaller number than the current limit of 165 companions, a restriction which is far too large for the highest level of a nation’s senior order.

I would also point out that, almost without exception, all of the world’s most prestigious orders are single class. Membership of a multi-class order such as the Order of Canada will rarely endow a recipient with the status that would be attained by membership in a single-class order with a restricted membership.  Whilst those who are interested in honours will appreciate that the class of companion is the highest class of the Order of Canada and is bestowed comparatively rarely, one cannot expect the average citizen to be aware of this fact. Similarly, although the public is aware of the existence of the Order of Canada and is familiar with the lapel pin and the insignia, only a tiny proportion will be able to distinguish the insignia or the lapel pin of a companion from that of a member or an officer.

Members of the public may be aware that a person belongs to the Order of Canada but they are rarely told to which class he or she belongs and this will again lead to the same problem of recognition. By way of illustration let me offer the following scenario: If an average person were to enter a restaurant and observe two persons sitting at a table, both of whom were wearing snowflake lapel pins, that person would probably recognise that they both belonged to the Order of Canada. However if one of those persons was a Companion of the Order of Canada (Canada’s most renowned scientist, philosopher or author for example) and the other was a Member of the Order of Canada (such as a high school principal) the average person would not be able to distinguish one from the other. Furthermore, if informed that one was a Companion and one was a Member this in and of itself might not be sufficient to make the person appreciate that, although both belong to the same Order, the achievements of one are celebrated internationally whilst the achievements of the other, although laudable, had an impact that was limited to a local community..

The solution is surely to create a new single-class honour to rank above the Order of Canada and to be restricted to between 15 and 24. As in New Zealand, this honour would be exclusively bestowed upon the nation’s most revered and cherished individuals. Unfortunately, the existence of the Order of Canada makes the selection of a name for this new honour difficult -- for surely Canada’s premier honour should be so named. There would appear to be two solutions to this quandary. One would be to find an acceptable name that would not appear peculiar when listed above the Order of Canada: the “Order of Confederation” is one possibility (I was thinking of the Order of the Polar Star but Sweden and Mongolia have already claimed that one!). The second, and my preferred, solution is to create a chain or collar, similar to the Royal Victorian Chain, which could be called the “Canadian Chain” or the “Chain of Confederation”.  With time, the existence and purpose of the chain would become common knowledge and it would not be long before members of the public who were introduced to a recipient of the Canadian Chain / Chain of Confederation would immediately recognise that the individual in question was one of Canada’s national treasures.

Another reform which can be implemented by adopting the New Zealand model is the expansion of the Order of Canada from three to five classes (thus replicating the New Zealand Order of Merit). The Order of Canada has already expanded from its original single class of 1967 and there is therefore no logical reason for it to remain at three. The two new classes, which might be named Grand Officer and Grand Companion, would rank above the current highest class of Companion. Neither of these levels need carry any titular distinction; recipients would simply bear the appropriate post-nominal. The creation of two new numerically-restricted classes would enable the Order to be awarded with greater frequency at the lower levels while safeguarding the higher levels for the exceptional (as is done with the Order of the British Empire for example). The Order of Canada is already under pressure as it is currently unable to adequately respond to the need to honour the many Canadians who are deserving of an honour.[1] The Grand Companion and Grand Officer classes could also be used for diplomatic appointments, either substantive or honorary. Canada does not currently have any means of adequately honouring foreign diplomats.

New insignia would be required for each of the two additional classes. In addition to the neck badge, Grand Officers could receive a breast star, whilst Grand Companions could receive a breast star, a sash and a sash badge. The institution of such insignia would serve to distinguish these classes from each other and from the lower classes. Most members of the public would immediately appreciate that a person wearing a neck badge and a star ranks ahead of one who wears merely a neck badge, whilst one who wears a sash ranks above them all.

Members of the Royal Family should be admitted to the Order of Canada as “extra”, rather than “honorary”, members. It seems quite wrong that a past Queen Consort whose daughter is both Queen of Canada and Sovereign of the Order of Canada and who, at the time of her appointment, was colonel-in-chief of Canadian regiments, should have been admitted as an honorary member, as if she were a foreigner with no connection to Canada. The situation is such that currently a future King of Canada would also have to be admitted to the Order as an “honorary” member. I cannot see how such a circumstance can be regarded as acceptable. It would surely bring honour and increased publicity to the Order of Canada, and indeed to Canada itself, were members of the Royal Family to be seen wearing the appropriate insignia on their medal bar, just as some members currently wear New Zealand’s Queen’s Service Order, with its distinctive ribbon.

Unlike Australia or New Zealand, Canada has its own heraldic authority, a body responsible for dealing with all matters pertaining to coats of arms, be they personal, corporate or civic. New Zealanders have a resident herald, New Zealand Herald Extraordinary, who represents the College of Arms in England however it is Her Majesty's U.K. resident Kings of Arms who act for The Queen as "Queen of New Zealand". Australia does not even have a resident herald. Canada and Antigua and Barbuda are the only Commonwealth realms outside the United Kingdom to have their own independent heralds. Unfortunately, whilst heralds in England and Scotland continue to play a ceremonial role on state occasions and serve as officers for the great orders of chivalry, the activities of the heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority have been largely restricted to matters related to coats of arms. I regard this as far too limiting. Having created its own independent heraldic institution, it seems a logical progression for Canada to install the Chief Herald of Canada, or another herald in ordinary, as an officer of the Order of Canada (the “Herald of the Order”). To those who would argue that such a position has no place in a modern order of a modern state, I would merely point out that New Zealand Herald Extraordinary serves as the herald of the New Zealand Order of Merit and this relatively recent appointment has been very well received by the public. As an officer of the Order the herald would participate in investiture ceremonies and could be charged with reading out the citations of those who are to be invested; he or she might also act as custodian of the roll of the Order. The herald, who would wear special insignia, would add a degree of pageantry to investiture ceremonies and this would bring increased prestige and solemnity to the occasions. As the Chief Herald of Canada now wears a ceremonial collar and carries a ceremonial baton and is about to receive tabard, I do not believe it is far-fetched to suggest that the appropriate time has arrived for one of the heralds to participate in ceremonies of the Order of Canada (as well as the State Opening of Parliament!).

The New Zealand Royal Honours System is a sensibly-crafted system that reveals a sound understanding of the nature of honours on the part of those who created it. Its structure is one which enables honours to be used to their best advantage and it is generally regarded as one of the finest models in the Commonwealth. The Canadian system, which is still respected for its pioneering spirit, has failed to realise its full potential. Canadian reform can be achieved relatively easily – it remains to be seen whether those with the power to initiate such reform have also the desire.

[1] Hitherto, the Canadian government has attempted to ease pressure on the Order of Canada by creating the Meritorious Service Decorations. Established in a civil and military division, the Meritorious Service Decorations honour those whose achievements are noteworthy but not yet sufficient to merit investiture in the Order of Canada. While the Order of Canada focuses upon lifetime achievement, the four Meritorious Service Decorations (military cross, military medal, civilian cross, civilian medal) honour either a single achievement or an activity over a specified period.

Sunday 10 October 2010

The New Zealand Royal Honours System -- An Example for Canada? PART ONE

HM The Queen of New Zealand

Between 1848 and 1996 New Zealanders were eligible for recommendation to traditional royal honours and during that period some were honoured at the highest level. Three New Zealanders have been appointed knights of the Order of the Garter: Lord Elworthy, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, was appointed to the Order in 1977 for services to the United Kingdom; the Right Honourable Sir Keith Holyoake received the honour in 1980 for services as Governor General of New Zealand and previously as Prime Minister; and, in 1995, Sir Edmund Hillary became a knight for services to New Zealand and the Commonwealth and also for his humanitarian work in Nepal. Sir Keith Holyoake’s honour is noteworthy as he is the first New Zealander to have received the Garter for services performed in and for New Zealand and he is the only non-British Commonwealth Prime Minister to be so honoured. Sir Edmund Hillary’s appointment is also unique as, excluding foreign royalty, he is the first non-British resident to have received this honour and the first such person to have received it for services performed outside the political or vice-regal sphere.

Professor John Beaglehole, the noted historian and authority on Captain James Cook and his voyages, is the only New Zealand resident to have been made a member of the Order of Merit. Two other New Zealand-born men who have been appointed to the Order of Merit are the Nobel Laureate Lord Rutherford of Nelson, generally regarded as the father of nuclear physics, and Professor Sir Ronald Syme, the celebrated historian of ancient Rome.

Establishing Indigenous Honours

The Queen's Service Order
(For Public Services)
On 13 March 1975, following a broad review of the operation of the honours system within New Zealand, The Queen instituted New Zealand’s first indigenous honour: the Queen’s Service Order with an associated Queen’s Service Medal, each in two divisions, for community service and for public service.  The Order is awarded “for valuable voluntary service to the community or meritorious and faithful services to the Crown or similar services within the public sector, whether in elected or appointed office”. Services must have been rendered in a civilian capacity in New Zealand or in other Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is sovereign. Citizens of those countries of which The Queen is sovereign are eligible for ordinary membership. The constitution of the Order allows for the appointment of “additional” members on significant royal, national or state occasions.  Foreign citizens and citizens of Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is not sovereign may be appointed as “honorary” members. Members of the royal family may be appointed as “extra companions”.[1]  Honorary, extra and additional appointments are extra-numerary. No more than thirty persons may be appointed in any single year. Along with their spouses, retiring Governors General are traditionally appointed as “additional companions”.

The Queen’s Service Order was intended, in part, to replace the Imperial Service Order and the Order of the British Empire. The criteria against which eligibility for the grade of Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for community service is measured is similar to that which was used for Officers of the Order of the British Empire whilst appointments to the grade of Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for public service completely supplanted appointments to the level of Companion of the Imperial Service Order. Indeed, appointments to the Imperial Service Order ceased completely following the establishment of the Queen’s Service Order. Similarly, the Imperial Service Medal was replaced by the award of the Queen's Service Medal for public services, while the Queen's Service Medal for community services replaced the civil division of the British Empire Medal. Awards of the British Empire Medal in the military division continued in the armed forces.

The Order of New Zealand
On 6 February 1987 (the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne), the Order of New Zealand was instituted by Royal Warrant, thus becoming New Zealand’s second indigenous Order.  The Order is New Zealand’s premier honour and is awarded for “outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity”. Inspired by The Queen’s personal/dynastic Order of Merit and the “imperial” Order of the Companions of Honour, the Order of New Zealand is composed of one grade of no more than twenty ordinary members.  As with the Queen’s Service Order, citizens of those countries of which HM The Queen is sovereign are eligible for ordinary membership. The constitution of the Order allows for the appointment of “additional” members on significant royal, national or state occasions.[2]  Foreign citizens and citizens of Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is not sovereign may be appointed as “honorary” members. Honorary and additional appointments are extra-numerary.  Interestingly, and in contrast to the Canadian and Australian situation, all appointments are made in the name of The Queen rather than the Governor General.

More Reviews of New Zealand Honours

In 1995 another review of the operation of the honours system within New Zealand was embarked upon, the resulting recommendations calling for a radical overhaul of the whole system. The review report recommended that the Order of New Zealand be elevated above the Order of the Companions of Honour in the table of precedence and also called for the creation of a New Zealand Order of Merit, to consist of five classes, which would replace the Order of the Bath, the Order of St. Michael and St. George, the Order of the British Empire, the Distinguished Service Order as well as the dignity of Knight Bachelor; appointments to those honours which are within The Queen’s personal gift, the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit, and the Royal Victorian Order and Chain, would continue.[3]

The New Zealand Order of Merit
(Neck Badge)
The New Zealand Order of Merit was duly instituted by Royal Warrant dated 30 May 1996.[4] The Order ranks second to the Order of New Zealand and is awarded to those “who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits”. The motto of the Order is FOR MERIT and, in Maori, TOHU HIRANGA (“To Achieve Excellence”). Citizens of those countries of which The Queen is sovereign are eligible for ordinary membership. The constitution of the Order allows for the appointment of “additional” members on significant royal, national or state occasions.  Foreign citizens and citizens of Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is not sovereign may be appointed as “honorary” members. Honorary and additional appointments are extra-numerary. The New Zealand Order of Merit has its own herald, in the person of Mr. Philip O’Shea, New Zealand Herald Extraordinary.

Of the Order’s original five classes the two highest (knight/dame grand companion and knight/dame companion) conferred a knighthood or damehood. On 10 April 2000 it was announced that following the earlier recommendations of the Prime Minister’s Honours Advisory Committee (1995) The Queen had approved the discontinuance of the two titular classes and their replacement with two new designations: principal companion and distinguished companion. These changes were instituted by a Royal Warrant dated 18 May 2000. The first appointments to the re-designated levels were made in The Queen’s Birthday Honours issued on 5 June 2000. The five classes consequently became: principal companion, distinguished companion, companion, officer and member.[5]

Those who were previously invested as knights or dames of the New Zealand Order of Merit were permitted to continue to bear the honorific; the wife of a knight, provided she uses her husband’s surname, could continue to bear the courtesy title of ‘lady’ before the surname.

In March 2009 it was announced that, upon the approval of HM The Queen, the titles of knight and dame grand companion and knight and dame companion were to be reinstated. The first appointments to the reinstated levels were made in The Queen’s 2009 Birthday Honours List. The 85 New Zealanders who were appointed principal companions and distinguished companions between 2000 and 2008 were afforded an opportunity to be redesignated to the appropriate level of knight/dame grand companion or knight/dame companion.

No more than thirty persons may belong to the class of knight/dame grand companion at any one time. According to the statutes of the Order, no more than fifteen knight/dame companions, forty companions, eighty officers and one hundred and forty members may be appointed per annum.

Additional members may be admitted to the Order in commemoration of any important royal, state, or national occasion, or to recognise military services rendered in war-like and peacekeeping operations. Additional members are extra-numerary.

Key Features of the New Zealand Honours System

New Zealand is to be congratulated for having devised an honours system which can meet the needs of a mature and independent modern nation without rejecting established traditions, symbols and institutions (particularly following the restoration of the two titular grades of the New Zealand Order of Merit).

The New Zealand Royal Honours System possesses several key features which could and should be applied to the honours systems of many other Commonwealth realms, including Canada:

  1. The structure of the current system reveals that its creators were possessed of a full and proper understanding of the fundamental importance of the source of all honours as well as an appreciation of the necessity of retaining a visible link between that source, the Sovereign, and those whom the Sovereign has honoured. Thus, we may identify as the first important feature of the New Zealand Royal Honours System the crucial fact that, unlike Canada, in New Zealand it is The Queen, rather than the Governor General, who makes awards of all honours.
  2. The second key feature, and again one which reveals a proper understanding of the distinct nature of such honours, is New Zealanders’ continued eligibility for those Orders that are within The Queen’s personal gift.
  3. The third feature of note is the eligibility for ordinary susbstantive membership of citizens of those countries of which the Queen is sovereign; as in the UK no distinction is drawn between citizens of Her Majesty’s various realms. This contrasts starkly with the situation in Canada, where citizens of Commonwealth realms must remain content with non-substantive awards. New Zealand has correctly understood that Commonwealth citizens share a common bond and should not be regarded as alien.
  4. Another important feature of the New Zealand system is the importance placed upon the position of members of the Royal Family (at least within one of the Orders): members of the Royal Family may be appointed extra companions of the Queen's Service Order. This again is an improvement on the Canadian situation, where no member of the Royal Family may receive a substantive award and where HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, a former Canadian Queen-Consort and the mother of the current Canadian Sovereign, could only be appointed as an “honorary” Companion.
  5. The fifth feature of the New Zealand system which is worthy of note is the decision to establish a single class Order of New Zealand with a numerical restriction of 20. By so doing, New Zealand has recognized the importance of distinguishing its most exceptional national treasures from those who are merely highly distinguished. The penultimate feature to which attention should be drawn is the five-class structure of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the most frequently awarded order. The Order’s five classes enable it to be far more effectively awarded than a three-class Order such as the Order of Canada. The final key feature of the New Zealand Honours System is the appointment of a ceremonial officer, in the form of a herald, for the New Zealand Order of Merit.
To Be Continued....

[1]  Current extra-companions include HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (1981), HRH The Prince of Wales (1983) and HRH The Princess Royal (1990).
[2]  Five additional members and one honorary member were appointed in 1990 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi, four additional members were appointed in 2002 on the occasion of HM The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and one honorary member was appointed in 2003 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of HM The Queen’s coronation.
[3] Although future appointments would cease, those who had already been appointed to one of the abandoned honours would be permitted to wear the insignia, bear the post-nominals and, where appropriate, continue to enjoy the title of “Sir” or “Dame”. The Cook Islands, an associated state of New Zealand, has opted out of the new New Zealand Royal Honours System, preferring to retain access to New Zealand's traditional honours (these continue to be administered through the New Zeland Honours Secretariat).
[4] Curiously, although it bears the words “Order of Merit” in its name, the New Zealand Order of Merit is termed an “Order of Chivalry” in its royal warrant.
[5] To apply the Order's warrant literally, the New Zealand Order of Merit has become a very rare thing: an order of chivalry to which no knights or dames may currently be appointed. The author has been informed, however, that upon the death of the Order's last living knight or dame the Order's statutes will be amended so as to transform the Order from an order of chivalry to an order of merit.

Thursday 7 October 2010

The Charitable Work of the Order of Malta Polish Association

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta was founded in Palestine around l099 to nurse the wounded and sick in the Crusades. It is the world's oldest confraternal  military-religious order. From its ancient roots the Order has developed into a world-wide charitable organisation which today cares for the sick and disadvantaged in 140 countries. It has a body of more than 80,000 permanent volunteers and 11,000 doctors and nurses to deliver medical and relief aid.

The Order was established in Poland in ll87 and is the country’s oldest charitable organisation. With members and centres across the nation, the Polish Association is actively assisting the sick, supporting specialised medical and cancer units as well as youth centres. Their work varies from operating a day centre for children from broken and difficult homes to equipping and running a diagnostic cancer centre, helping in understaffed hospitals, running a school for the disabled and providing a primary health centre as well as medical and social aid to the poor and homeless.

The Polish Association also organises annual pilgrimages to Lourdes for the handicapped and summer camps for children. Through its medical and ambulance service (similar to that operated in the United Kingdom by St. John’s Ambulance) the Association is able to provide First Aid at large public events as well as training in First Aid and resuscitation. The Association also provides medical and financial support in crisis situations.

Recent projects undertaken by the Polish Association of the Order of Malta include the establishment of several aid centres for the physically and mentally disabled and a crisis intervention centre for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. The Order recently opened a diagnostic and therapy centre in Krakow for children with cerebral palsy. The centre, which is now fully operational, is the largest of its kind in Europe.

The 60 volunteers at the Association’s Oncological Out-Patient clinic in Poznan annually diagnose and treat over 5,000 patients, at no charge. Medical departments include oncology, gynaecology, radiology, internal medicine, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, surgery and path morphology.

The Polish Association of the Order of Malta relies on volunteers to fulfill its mission and funds are raised through donations and charity fund-raising. The Polish Order of Malta Volunteers (London) was established to assist the Association with its fundraising goals.

To read a full account of the charitable activities of the Polish Association of the Order of Malta please download the PDF “Guide to the Association’s Works” at this link:

Sunday 3 October 2010

Installation of Her Majesty's Governor General of Canada

The Installation of H.E. The Rt. Hon. David Johnston CC, CMM, COM, 
Her Majesty's Governor General of Canada

The Flag of the Governor General of Canada

Photograph by Pat McGrath, Ottawa Citizen

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Placing flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Photograph by: Blair Gable, Reuters

Photograph by Pat McGrath, Ottawa Citizen

Photograph by Pat McGrath, Ottawa Citizen

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada
with the Leader of HM's Official Opposition and the Leader of the NDP

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Photograph by: Chris Wattie, Reuters

Government House (Rideau Hall), Ottawa
Official Residence of HM The Queen
and The Governor General of Canada

Photo Album: