How does one become a knight?

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Knights. When you hear knight you think, shining armor, jousting, roundtables, and general medieval behavior. While this has some semblance of realism, there are many knights alive and well in today’s society and not one of them is required to wear a suit of armor. So with the possibility of becoming a knight still achievable, how does one go about it?

A what?

Let’s start with what it actually means to be a knight. It is officially known as the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and is offered to people who greatly contribute positively to the British realm. The honor allows males to prefix their name with a “Sir” and females get the prefix of “Dame.” There are several ranks amongst The Order, and only the top two allow the honored person to put Dame or Sir in front of their names. The Order consists of; Knight and Dame Grand Cross, Knight and Dame Commander, and then Commander, Officer, and finally Member.

Who can be a knight

Generally speaking, only British citizens can become a knight, but there have been certain exceptions to the rule. Non-British citizens are eligible for honorary knighthoods but are not able to use the prefix of Sir or Dame. They are allowed to have “KBE” following their name if they wish, which is the indication they have been given a knighthood by the British royal family. The Irish comedian Terry Wogan was given a KBE, and a year later he became a British citizen so that he could use the title of Sir in his name.

Who is the Knightmaker?

As with much of British procedures, technically the head of the monarchy is the responsible party, but in practice, it tends to be the British government that decides things. The monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) is counseled by the government departments responsible for defense and foreign affairs. The official governmental positions that make the recommendations are; Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Secretary of State for Defence.

What makes a knight a knight?

Many members of the British military have been honored with knighthoods for their contributions and services, but there are others who are bestowed with the honor too. Many famous people have been given knighthoods for their huge contributions to their respective industries, think Dame Helen Mirren, or Sir Elton John. These people are leaders in their fields and have brought considerable media attention to the UK thanks to their abilities.

Not all knighthoods are accepted

Sometimes people nominated for knighthoods will refuse the honor. This may be due to their personal feelings regarding the monarchy or as part of a political statement. For instance, the late Stephen Hawking declined the offer of a knighthood because he didn’t agree with the level of financial support science was receiving from the government.

Is it worth it?

It depends on your outlook. There is no direct financial gain to the honor, but you are able to attend special dinners and events just held for people with the same honors. Many knights and dames will have their badges on display at official events and services. Wives of knights will be able to be called “Lady,” and both knights and dames can alter their coat of arms to include the honor.

So that’s how to become a knight or a dame. If you really want to become one, then you’ll need to find some British ancestry or become a citizen by other means (assuming you aren’t already British). Then you’ll just have to contribute to the British realm greatly. It’s as easy as that.

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