Bug-eyed monstrosity

Around the end of the First World War the sway of the British Empire extended over 13,010,000 square miles of land, more than a fifth of the Earth’s surface and of its population. The guys and girls of Sinn Féin (among others) were doing something about reducing that grasp.

To mark the dominion over palm and pine the King-Emperor George V instituted the Order of the British Empire, including the B.E.M.:

the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (usually known as the British Empire Medal) was awarded in similar circumstances as the lower classes of the Order of the British Empire, but usually to people below management or professional level. In the uniformed services, it was awarded to non-commissioned officers of the armed forces, officers below superintendent rank in the police, and personnel below divisional officer level in the fire services.

Just the thing to mark the retirement of the long-serving bar steward at your local Conservative Club.

Today there is no “British Empire”. There remain fourteen “British Overseas Territories“: they amount to less than 740 square miles, plus the Falklands and South Georgia, and a nebulous claim to swathes of the Antarctic ice-cap. Total population: around a quarter of a million, excluding the Falklands sheep and lots of penguins — rather less than Wolverhampton, a few more than Aberdeen (though such places are notably and sadly deficient in penguins).

Eight of the fourteen are so speck-like they do not even rate a position in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. Surely the 3,000 Falkland Islanders could give the 4,655 of Monserrat a game?

Still, we have joyous news:

A medal for local heroes that was scrapped nearly 20 years ago as part of a bid to make the honours system “classless” is to be revived, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced.

The British Empire Medal (BEM) will be awarded again from next year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee…

Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted that we are going to start using the British Empire Medal again.

“The medal will be handed out in recognition of the dedication and hard work so many provide to their communities.”


Just when it seems we have run out of eccentric anachronisms, there is this:

The revived honour will again be bestowed on recipients by the lords lieutenant.

However, those awarded the BEM will be entitled to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party with others whose work has been recognised.

How naice to go to Buck House for a torrential summer rain-storm and recognise others whose work has been rcognised.

Great Galloping Panjandrums!

Now Malcolm is prepared to wager a small amount that the recognition factor for the local lord lieutenant ranks even lower than for MPs and local councillors. So, he had to look it up:

Lord-Lieutenants are responsible for the organisation of all official Royal visits to their county.

On the day of an engagement they escort the Royal visitor around the different locations – not simply The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, but any member of the Royal Family.

Lord-Lieutenants also carry out other duties in their county, such as the presentation of decorations (where the recipient is unable to attend an Investiture), The Queen’s Awards for Export and Technology, and Queen’s Scout and Queen’s Guide Awards.

Lord-Lieutenants are also responsible for ensuring that The Queen’s Private Office is kept informed about local issues relating to their area, particularly when a Royal visit is being planned.

Malcolm is lodging a complaint that the BBC website was guilty of lèse-majesté by failing to give the Lord-Lieutenants their proper capital letters and plural form.

Web-footed note

To complete a morning that out-reached the merely bizarre, Malcolm discovered that the British Antarctic Territory (population >50, and all transients) has its own coat of arms, complete with stately penguin. Irresistible, and so given recognition above.

However, BAT (these acronyms are telling us something) does not feature on the FIFA list either.

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Filed under BBC, Britain, broken society, David Cameron, History, Literature, Penguins, reading, Tories., underclass, working class

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