How to Refuse an Honour from the Queen – to Her Face 228

Scores of principled people have refused honours from the Queen. Very few have ever been called on to explain why in person. This is discussed along with many less lighthearted episodes from my life, in this long interview with Alex Salmond. Part 2 next week.


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228 thoughts on “How to Refuse an Honour from the Queen – to Her Face

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    • Sharp Ears

      And another in Whitehall in support of Palestine. Ahed Tamimi is with them. Not mentioned on the ‘news channels’ needless to say. The Independent have reported it and Ruptly have given live coverage.

      • Charles Bostock

        Oh, so the evil, fascist , apartheid Israeli régime has allowed Ahed Tamini to leave the country to take part in a demonstration in London?

      • BrianFujisan

        Did you find the RT Video Sharp Ears

        Tamimi appears in the crowd Shaking Hands, taking Selfies At 1: 24: 45 Just before some excellent Speakers.
        Palestinian Ambassador Dr Husam Zomlot. introduces Tamimi, as she takes to the mic at 2: 16:00

        P.s Cheers for the Alex info.. Wonder what Nicola meant, secret Joke or something.

        • Charles Bostock

          Didn’t say much, did she? Perhaps she’s better at slapping Israeli soldiers than public speaking.

          • Sharp Ears

            Thanks for the links Brian. Yes I heard Ahed. A brave and spirited young woman.

            Just a reminder for some others on here that Ahed’s brother and cousin have been arrested and re-arrested continually. Ahed has been arrested and imprisoned. That is the treatment handed out to those who resist the occupation of their land, even when they are children. I believe that there 500 Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons.
            The Palestinians possess a quality known as ‘sumud’, translated as ‘steadfastness’. Their spirit will never be broken.

  • Anon1

    It’s a sort of inverted snobbery though isn’t it. ‘” Look at me, look how important I am refusing this award from the Queen, in her FACE!”.

        • Squeeth

          No, it’s only fair to say so to the person’s face. I turned down a bribe once, indirectly; it wasn’t as satisfying as it should have been.

      • N_

        It’s absolutely nothing like inverted snobbery.

        In related news, Anthony Wallersteiner, headmaster of Stowe, a second division English public school (but don’t tell the Russian and Chinese mafia), has said that criticising the dominant role in British society played by graduates of English public schools is “facile” and “stereotyping”. He further says it can echo the “conspiratorial language” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (he literally says that – I wonder whether he has actually read that document), and that it is akin to “antisemitic abuse”. He also says it ignores the “fact” that lawyers, “doctors”, and politicians are “individuals”.

        Readers can pick which bit they think is funniest. Personally I think Wallersteiner is a hilarious guy and I hope we hear more from him. But I suspect his colleagues at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference will tell him to shut his cakehole and not to be such a shanda.

        And they won’t be the only ones. Stephen Pollard, editor of the J__ish Chronicle, says “Clearly the headmaster of Stowe is not an idiot. But he is doing his best to convince people that he is. And his words are so appalling that I doubt he can stay.”

        I really am laughing out loud as I type this.

        You’ve just been sacked, Anthony! But don’t get the idea anyone thinks you’re an idiot!

        Wallersteiner describes himself on his page at the Stowe website as “MA, Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, PhD Kent”

        Let’s decode.

        * “MA” means a Cambridge University MA, which is not an academic degree. It’s given to every Cambridge BA who applies for it two years after graduating and sends in the fee, which I think is something like £10. So basically he got a BA.

        * “Scholar of Trinity College” means that the college he belonged to at Cambridge gave him a scholarship. They probably gave him one because during his BA, which is likely to have lasted for three years, he got a first in at least one year’s exams. Note that a first is awarded by the University, not by any college. But rather than saying “First class in one of my years” (for all I know, he may have got firsts in all three years, but somehow I doubt it), which would be a reference to a real achievement, he prefers to say that the college he was at called him a “Scholar”. In other words, he considers a prize given by one of the snottiest Cambridge colleges (and by far the richest) to be more worthy of note than the achievement in university examinations which caused them to give it to him. Never mind that a first is a first regardless of what college a Cambridge undergraduate is at. He feels some kind of compulsion to mention Trinity College, which didn’t even award him the first because it doesn’t have any role in marking exams or in awarding classes or degrees. He’s showing off that he went to a snotty college, basically.

        * PhD Kent: this suggests that his final-year BA result was such a bucket of crap that Cambridge university didn’t want him as a master’s student, let alone a PhD student, so he had to go south of the Thames estuary instead.

        • N_

          Wallersteiner boasts about the undercover work he did on the other side of the Iron Curtain, in Czechoslovakia. He seems to have got documents written by “intellectuals” out of that country for lucrative publication in the west. I bet he was “everyone’s” friend at dinner parties.

          My cover story if I ever got picked up for spying, which I was always slightly worried about due to my association with a group called Charter 77 who had signed a declaration against the government of Gustáv Husák, was that I was an historian conducting research on turn of the century architecture. I was picked up once by police as my visa had expired which was fairly alarming. I feigned stupidity and puerile ignorance and thankfully was let go – people love students, even the police, because they always remember when they were young and foolish.

          This guy is really so amusing! I wonder how hard he found it to feign stupidity? Is there a class in that skill at MI6’s Intelligence Officers’ New Entry Course (IONEC)?

          What else is accidentally letting your visa run out in such circumstances but utterly moronic? Maybe he got the boot from an MI6 career path for that stupid error? Just a guess.

        • Chris Abbott

          I guess the shortlist was pretty sparse the day they appointed this Schmuck.

          • Sharp Ears

            The Mail and the BBC are also carrying this story . Fees at Stowe are £12,697 per term!

            ‘Analysis by social mobility charity The Sutton Trust published in December showed eight private schools sent 1,310 pupils to Oxbridge over three years, while over the same period, 2,894 other schools sent just 1,220 students between them.

            According to The Times, of the school leavers awarded a place at Cambridge in 2017, 64.1% were from state schools compared to 61.4% in 2013.

            During the same period for Oxford, the figure rose from 56.8% to 58.2%.’


          • N_

            @SharpEars – That’s a nice stat from the Sutton Trust: eight schools got as many pupils to Oxford or Cambridge as almost 3000 others.

            For years, Cambridge University’s “we’re a charity and we work so hard to encourage social mobility” propaganda officials have headlined the statistic of what percentage of their undergraduates attended state schools. Since the top state schools are similar to private schools (albeit not to the very top ones) with regards to their intake, this statistic can be – and is intended to be – highly misleading. Another Cambridge University public relations weak spot is that its admissions are highly racist against black people. The real reason is the vile racist belief in black inferiority which of course they don’t admit. It’s a case of spitting in people’s faces and telling them it’s raining.

            Note that it’s not the University that admits undergraduates; it’s the colleges. When the issue gets raised of what the colleges are actually for, things will really be getting somewhere. They don’t pay tax, because they’ve got charity status, but they’re a law unto themselves and in some cases they manage to salt hundreds of millions of pounds away in Switzerland – and I’m talking here about the poorer colleges. Why would they do that, if they don’t pay tax on their income in Britain anyway?

          • N_

            Here is an example of just how ridiculous the “we’re Cambridge University and we’re not prejudiced” line can get: “A shortage of Afro-Caribbean hairdressers in Cambridge is deterring black would-be students from applying to study at the university, a pro-vice-Chancellor has said.

            This soundbite plays to the dishonest line that the reason there aren’t more working class or black students at Cambridge is that so FEW working class and black students have the confidence to apply. The implication is that so MANY of them don’t have the GUMPTION, however hard the posh elite bends over backwards to encourage them to make an effort in life, and however keen it is to invite them to its dinner table. It’s as if the elite would absolutely LOVE their children and grandchildren to speak in Estuary English, perhaps with some Jamaican patois mixed in. In short, whatever you do, don’t blame the elite for self-perpetuating, because it’s trying ever so hard not to. Basically they’re saying the poor are lazy and stupid.

            Those who do public relations for Cambridge University on the issue of class (or “access” as they call it) are working for the collective interests of those who dominate the colleges, the institutions that control undergraduate admissions. One feature of the University that they DON’T like light shone on is precisely the college system.

            The quoted “pro-vice-chancellor” (deputy chief executive) is Graham Virgo. He’s a barrister and a “fellow” of Downing College, Cambridge, where he used to be “Senior Tutor” (chief executive). And oh look, he was an undergraduate member of exactly the same college. Did that help him at all? There’s a clue there to what Oxford and Cambridge and their college systems are all about.

          • Charles Bostock

            I wonder why N_ puts the words “fellow” and “senior tutor” into inverted commas?

            Is he claiming that Mr Virgo was/is nether or is he doubting that those posts exist?

            N-‘s hatred of Cambridge, as expressed in his latest screeds (why does he spend some much effort on Oxbridge?) makes it evident that he has something personal against the place.

            Fair enough, but is this blog the right place for him to let it all hang out?

        • Curiouser & Curiouser

          That grinds my gourd. So a red-bricker like me has to slog hard for an extra year including writing what is effectively a damned book to improve from a Bachelor’s to a Masters, whereas the ex-public school nonces at Cambridge just have to wait for a couple of years, then send 10 quid in?!?
          Class line: “I wonder how hard he found it to feign stupidity?” 😉

        • Charles Bostock


          You’ve devoted a fair bit of time slagging off Oxbridge.

          And you seem to know a little about those places (although you’re wrong about the Trinity awards at the time he was up).

          Heaven forgive us, but one gets the impression that you tried to get into Oxford or Cambridge but failed.

        • Charles Bostock

          BTW, N_, your last para does one the impression that you consider Kent to be an inferior institution to Cambridge. Which sits rather strangely with your rant against Trinity College, doesn’t it? Or is it just Trinity you have a beef agaonst, doubtlessly for “class reasons” ?

        • Rhys Jaggar

          I think you should temper your comments somewhat. Dr Wallersteiner is of an age that he may have obtained an entrance scholarship at Trinity by examination. Having sat Cambridge entrance exams myself, they are highly competitive and getting a scholarship is not easy.

          Furthermore, where you do your PhD does not define your intelligence. Often the best PhD students find the best project and go wherever it is on offer.

          Do you know where Professor Sir Paul Nurse, PRS and Nobel Laureate did his PhD? Well it was not at Oxbridge, it was at UEA. Where did he get his BSc? Not at Oxbridge either. At Birmingham. He even had to work as a technician at Guinness before going to University as he was so useless at foreign languages that he could not pass O Level French. And back in the days of idiotic academic snobbery, scientific genii needed to be skilled linguists too….

          Oxford did deign to award him a Research Professorship eventually, but only after stints at the lesser lights of Edinburgh, Bern and Sussex…they probably deigned to interview him as ICRF thought he passed muster…..

          I met a PhD applicant in the 1980s who rejected Cambridge as he ‘didn’t like their attitude’. He was not short of offers from elsewhere, despite being a working class northerner with a chip on his shoulder.

          Academia is more complex than Oxbridge likes to make out.

          I studied or worked in both places, so I have a vague idea of what I am talking about…

    • Republicofscotland

      Not at all, by refusing it and letting world know, you’re showing everyone that, royal approval is not something that you consider to be relevant whatsoever.

      Why would anyone in their right mind kowtow to any cosseted royal for any reason, many, many countries manage perfectly without the financial drain of royals.

      • Tatyana

        I agree on that royal approval is not relevant.
        If my mom says good words about my son, I feel proud and grateful, because my mom knows how to raise children.
        If I win school competition in Math and get an award from Education Department, I’m proud too, because they are experts in Math.
        If my husband praises my borsch, I feel proud too, because he ate many of them.
        If I receive an honour from firefighters for saving a dog from burning house, so I know I did good and they appreciate it.

        Royal honours, what are they about? I don’t understand the sense, I don’t understand who are those royals, what is the field of their expertise? What is their contribution into society?

        • Republicofscotland

          Very well put Tatyana, I hope you got all, the blue paint off your hands. ?

          • Tatyana

            It is ok, thanks, all clear now 🙂
            Back to royal field of expertise. We have no queens here in Russia, but we read about foreign monarchs. As to queen Elizabeth II and her family, I see nothing but keeping traditions and being a part of *sorry, I don’t want to be un-respectful* but it looks like theatre or masquerade. They may be experts in luxary weddings, choosing a good hat for Ascott, or even in waving with a fake hand 🙂

            What are their service for their country, other than being a symbol?

          • Republicofscotland

            Indeed, the royals are protected on all sides by the sectors in Britain. They’re portrayed as some kind of high moraslistic entity to look up to in times of uncertainty, which of course couldn’t be further from the truth.

            The ever increasing impoverished masses, are encouraged through the media to watch our turn out to laud and and applaud royal events. Such as you mention weddings births etc, of course its all just ruse, to keep the royals in position by presenting them to poor as something that is needed without question.

  • Garth Carthy


    No. I don’t think so. It’s simply refusing to accept the infantile notion that members of the Royal family are any better than anyone else.

    • Charles Bostock


      Honours have nothing to do with any notion that the members of the Royal Family are better than anyone else.

      Just as when honours conferred in a republic (have you heard of the French Légion d’Honneur or the German Bundesverdienstkreuz?) have nothing to do with any notion that their Heads of State are better than anyone else.

      • Republicofscotland

        They’re a drain on taxpayer funds, they’re a embarrassment to boot. Like many MP’s and Lords (The latter another economic drain on the taxpayer) stuck in the Westminster bubble the royals haven’t a clue what’s going on in the streets. They’re completely out of touch with the real world.

        Their state benefits should be stopped completely let them stand on their own two feet. I’m sure Old Lizzie will have a few quid to stashed away to rely on somewhere in her 775 roomed palace.

        • N_

          The monarch is at the pinnacle of the social hierarchy in Britain and she represents its principle.

          This is why those in the country who value and think principally in terms of social hierarchy are monarchists almost exclusively. They get really narky when someone dares say “I reckon that Glucksburg woman should be tried for war crimes at the Hague”, “the filthy good-for-nothing should be forced to return the art treasures her family stole”, or “her head should come off”. It’s as if their whole world is being spat at.

          The monarch used to appear in the Sunday Times Rich List as the country’s richest person. Then suddenly she got downgraded from several billion quid to only a hundred million or two, somewhere near Paul McCartney, and no journalist, as far as I know, has ever commented on the change. They wouldn’t, would they? Start asking questions such as why the change happened, and it’s a short step to realising that it must have been ordered from the top. Now I’m wondering whether it happened at the same time that the media and politician pillocks started saying “UK” instead of “Britain”. Thirty years ago hardly anybody said “the UK government”. Now you even hear weathermen talk about “the east coast of the UK”, as if a political regime is a geographical area. Once again, nobody has commented on the change.

          • Republicofscotland

            The Queen has visible known wealth however I’m sure she set up a body in the 1970’s to hide the real amount of her wealth from the public.

            Britain’s monarchy is the most expensive in Europe, though the Netherlands isn’t far behind. Spain’s royal family gets a comparatively meagre £7m (circa 2012) allowance each year. The Queen is thought to be worth around £300m, (circa 2012) making her the 257th richest person in the UK.

            All 5,300 breeding pairs of Mute swan in Britain are officially owned by the Queen. Fishes Royal applies to all sturgeon, whales, porpoises and dolphins in the water around the UK. Like swans, they also officially belong to the Queen.

            The Queen apparently also owns the land (Crown land) seabed, in and around the coast of Britain. Not to mention Commonwealth lands.

          • Republicofscotland


            Yes good links thanks, as you say I’d be here all day and then some. ?

          • Tatyana

            It is also in todays russian news, Sharp Ears.

            Top 10 UK’s richest – 3 of them are russians
            #8 Usmanov
            #9 Abramovich
            #10 Fridman

            According to ‘Forbs’ Fridman is the richest Londoner.

          • Charles Bostock


            “Top 10 UK’s richest – 3 of them are russians
            #8 Usmanov
            #9 Abramovich
            #10 Fridman3

            Well, if they hadn’t fallen out with Uncle Vlad and HIS group of oligarchs, they would probably still be living in Russia. After all, it’s easier to kill rivals there 🙂

          • mark golding

            A proportionate number of Royal Navy top secret sensitivity reviews have confirmed British service-people being sacrificed in order to protect intelligence sources and methods. Bostock’s ‘easier to kill rivals’ statement is a banal attempt at ‘back-fence’ script.

      • Ingwe

        Honours in a democratic society would involve the electorate having a say in who, and for what contributions to society as a whole, the honours were granted.
        Instead we have the ‘great and the good’ secretly deciding to whom such honours should be awarded and then having to attend a bullshit ceremony usually involving bowing, curtsying or otherwise tugging one’s forlock to some ultra-privileged, mega-rich ultimate symbol of a divided society.
        So, until there is a system of honours that better reflects true contributions to society, than say, Philip Green or Jimmy Saville I applaud anyone offered an honour to say, without equanimity, “shove it, your Royal parasite”.

        • Charles Bostock


          Your post is an excellent example of the sort of would-be populist “thinking” that pervades left-wing discourse. Having the “electorate” have a say in who gets honoured, and for what “contribution to society as a whole” sounds marvellous, but how would you go about putting those marvellous ideas into practice?

          How would the “electorate” have a say? Should there be a list of a few thousand possible honorands on which there should be a referendum per individual name? Or should a “committee” (consisting of whom, and how chosen and by whom?) stnd in for the “electorate”?

          And then ; given that everyone “contributes to society” – either positively or negatively – by their very presence in that society, who would be doing the ranking of those various contributions and would any such ranking also be submitted to the “electorate” for ratification?

          You yourself use the expression “true contributions”; now of course you have your own idea of what a true contribution is, and it is of course easy to cite Philip Green and Jimmy Savile as not having made “true” contributions (although both have made both positive and negative contributions…) but the problem is that other people might not agree with your categorisation. And to go further : let us say that you categorise nursing as a “true” contribution : there are say 100,000 nurses; would your method of choosing which individuals should get an honour in any year be any less arbitrary than the current system?

          You see, it’s easy to criticise but slightly less easy to come out with a practical, more equitable system. Which is why most so-called dissidents don’t……

          It’s a little like trying to establish what various jobs and occupations should pay relative to one another, isn’t it.

    • pete

      What are Royal Honours? Its a good question, after all anyone can bestow any honour they like on anyone else, or indeed themselves. For example I have just bestowed an Order of Para-phrenology on myself. Para-phrenology, as any fool knows, is the imagined ability to read bumps on the heads of spirits. It’s a new field in which I am now a leader, in spite of my extreme religious scepticism.
      The difference between that and Royal Honours is that they can only be bestowed by certain members of the Royal family and whatever political leaders have been granted the same powers. It follows then that only establishment figures can bestow the widely recognised Royal honours. Any study of this system reveals that high regard for these honours tends to be amongst the establishment themselves, for many of the rest of us they look like deference to a meaningless tradition.
      In order therefore to give some kind of credibility to such a system the field has increased to encompass sports figures, celebrities, charity workers, business people, civil servants and so on. It is a bizarre anachronism in the modern world. Its defenders seem to be beneficiaries of the very system that creates them.
      Having said that, the absurdity of the system seeming self evident, it is probably otherwise harmless and accepting or declining an Honour not a matter of vanity at all, but just a signal to others as to where in the social system you see yourself.

  • Mochyn69

    @Craig and all you other independence minded Murrayistas wherever you may be.

    Wales is at last on the move, finally the dragon awakes. There was a very presentable turnout from all over Wales in Caerdydd/Cardiff today at the first ever AUOB Cymru march in the city.

    The cause of Welsh independence is as equally compelling as independence for Scotland and worthy of your support. To borrow a phrase and give it new meaning – Better Together!


  • John Goss

    As we are on page 2 Craig Murray, since he has done so much campaigning on behalf of Julian Assange is not likely to be offended by this piece I wrote. We claim to be a Christian country. Many people who do not go to church and are not practising Christian when they are in hospital register their religion as Christian. Donald Trump claims to be a Christian too. Witnesses in court used to swear on the bible to tell the truth.

    Not everybody know that the Saudis funded ISIS (or its derivative acronyms IS &c). And not everyone knows that this totally evil kingdom may well have been behind the Sri Lanka mass murders of Christians on the holy day of Easter Sunday (at least they knew it was going to happen 5 days before it did). I have always tried to support those wrongfully imprisoned, good people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Babar Ahmed and Talha Ahsan

    Normally I leave preaching to the professionals but this is too important to be left to those who can be sat on by bishops and the church hierarchy.

      • Robyn

        My understanding, from listening to and reading many and various commenters on this topic, is that Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning did not ‘hack’ anything as she had high level clearance and passed on information to which she had access. Julian Assange tried to help Manning to log in under a different identity so that she could access more information – an attempt which failed.

      • John Goss

        Well argued Courtenay. We really do not know what the final outcome of this extradition request is likely to be but you summed up the likelihood when examining the “impartiality” of Justice Snow. The establishment, of which the judiciary is a part, seems to have no difficulty in making available tp preside judges who serve the establishment’s purpose. Although these trials are supposed to be based on evidence the cynical among us will go on thinking, from the verdicts, that they are arrived at in the long-established Gentlemen’s Clubs.

        • Courtenay Barnett


          The tome on the subject is deceased Professor J.A.G. Griffiths of LSE fame. His best seller book was entitled, ” The politics of the judiciary” ( which empirically establishes exactly what you are saying).

          However, a counterbalance is the need to preserve some credibility -and in that regard the courts are going to have a very hard time and hard choices to face in light of the domestic and international scrutiny which the Assange case has attracted.

        • Charles Bostock


          There is no such thing as “the establishment”. It is an alibi used by people to explain their own failure(s). It is for that reasons that you will not find the workers going on about the “establishment” – it is a purely middle-class myth.

    • Curiouser & Curiouser

      Well, I’m not religious, in fact, I consider them all to be toxic to greater or lesser degree, but that’s a well written article that pretty much hits all the marks with relevant comparisons – anyway using the bible as a reference I guess doesn’t necessarily imply a proselytising stance, or even a strong adherence to religion – the words and stories ARE there in the bible for use by everyone.
      Courtenay Barnett’s more legalistic support of Assange is also very good and worth reading.

      • John Goss

        C&C, Thanks for your kind comment. You do not need to be religious to be moral. Alternatively just because you are religious does not mean you are moral.

        By the way I am not proselytising. I don’t think it works – except perhaps with those who think in black and white terms, where recruitment to extremist groups (such as ISIS, National Front) plays on the minds of children who have not yet learnt to reason for themselves, and in some cases never will.

      • Sharp Ears

        This was a nasty and cruel message from Graham Norton to the luvvies at the BAFTAs as he opened the proceedings.

        ‘You’ve all been working so hard! Just like the air freshener at the Ecuadorian Embassy recently’.

        Shame on him. The licence fee payers fund him to the tune of £600k – £650k plus income from his production company So! Productions .

        PS. He laughs at his own jokes too.

    • Sharp Ears

      Shame on Moreno and his cohort in Knightsbridge.

      Ecuador will give US all documents & devices Assange left in London embassy – report
      Ecuador’s attorney general has informed Julian Assange’s lawyer that the WikiLeaks co-founder’s files, computer, mobile phones and other electronic devices will be seized during a search of the London embassy and sent to the US.

      Moreno should watch out. The Washington worm might turn and it will be him next in the US crosshairs.

  • Jan N

    I can donate a one time amount but don’t see any provision for doing this. Just so you know, others may be in a similar situation

  • Courtenay Barnett


    Surely you are aware of the long history of people of African descent being equated to ‘apes’ and then when is said that “The tweet sparked outrage with many accusing Baker of being a racist” – does the image not clearly equate African with ape ( in all the prevailing circumstances)?

    That aspect put to rest – it seems to me that the two points which you juxtapose are not mutually exclusive. The single offensive racist tweet serves well to maximise hate and minimise tolerance and mutual respect. Opposing hatred coming from the police doing their job does not automatically equate to such a task and response willfully depriving the police overall of much needed resources. The problem is broader and governmental and economic in a much wider way than you imply.

  • Dave

    I suppose rejecting an award to the Monarch’s face is akin to a positive abstention. Some people don’t vote as a protest, but the protest can be dismissed as too indifferent or lazy to vote. So to highlight the protest, turn up and spoil the ballot paper. Few adopt this approach either, which makes the fact the figure doubled in the local elections a very significant development.

  • Tatyana

    I understand how people refuse honours.
    There’s a man in Russia Grigory Perelman who have recently solved the Poincare conjecture, one of the most important problems in Mathematics. Perelman refused 1 million US dollar award from Clay Math Institute, because they did not award Richard Hamilton as well. Perelman also refused European Math award and Fields Medal by International Math Union (from the hands of Spanish King).

    In his interview he said Math is not about money, Math is idea, his work is about knowlege, he used works of other scientists as the base. “I discovered how to rule Universe, why are you talking about money?” – he said, he was angry with journalists keeping asking him about awards.
    He dislikes modern state of science, its spirits, money-money, profit-profit, practical implementation for profit to get more money. I dont like it either, people go narrow-minded and greedy. Where is dream? Where is power of human mind? Solving the puzzles of the Universe? Bitter ‘ha ha’ three times.

    • Scott

      I recall he also refused to accept an award on the basis that he considered the judging panel lacked the competence to validate his achievement.

      The trauma for someone like Perelman lacking the skill of living inauthentically in an insane world, acutely aware of the prevaling value-system that seeks to monetise or militarise every ounce of creativity, while fascinating from a journalistic viewpoint, must be unbearable.

      I always liked the Aronofsky movie “PI” also concerning Maths,
      And the Hollywood treatment of Game Theory founder John Nash is also interesting,

      It’s no coincidence that both movies concern characters walking the line of insanity.

  • Goose

    Very good case for rewarding only genuine altruism(tireless charity work) and real heroism(bravery).

    How we ended up with political honours and services to pop music and football or tennis etc.?

    My personal belief is they throw honours around like confetti in order to lock people into the establishment – to engender loyalty. The present monarch the Queen is popular, but, a King Charles and Queen Camilla , may not be. Those that wish to defend the system of privilege are going to need a lot of influential people to keep their mouths shut should the movement for a republic gather momentum. Hence the honours; if you’ve already accepted a gong you’ve effectively endorsed the system.

    • Charles Bostock

      Two points, Goose:

      1/. If honours are thrown around like confetti, then that criticism would apply equally to republican France and many other countries for that matter. Check out France’s various decorations and how many people wear them at any given time.

      2/. As for Prince Charles’s future popularity, I note that many republicans are pinning their hopes on that as a lever for getting rid of the monarchy and moving to a republican form of statehood. I suspect that they would be disappointed. The monarchy has been unpopular at various times in its history but has survived.

      I believe that if you were to have a referendum today on whether to keep the monarchy, there would be a majority in favour considerably larger than the majority in favour of staying in the UK in the Indyref and the majority in the referendum in favour of leaving the EU.

      • Republicofscotland

        David Cameron gifting his hairdresser with a MBE. No wonder the obedience gongs system is fast becoming a laughing stock.

      • Goose

        @CB “I believe that if you were to have a referendum today on whether to keep the monarchy”

        Well, no one is proposing one and there is no discussion/debate of the alternatives, so it’d be incredible if people were pro-republic. Then there’s that old scary nonsense put about ; the idea you’d end up with President Blair, Trump or Macron – many not realising those are executive Presidents and we’d have a ceremonial one as per Germany and Ireland.

        The Queen isn’t just the Queen of the UK so that complicates things. But if say Australia and Canada break ties then the whole institution could start to be called into question. I’ve nothing against the members of the royal family – I don’t know them , nor do I care to. But the ideas behind the institution : that some are born better than others, and that we are ‘subjects’, not citizens, is a terrible statement against meritocracy to give to people in 2019.

        The first thing we need to do is get rid of the unelected House of Lords, the idea of a mixed hereditary and appointed second chamber is an outrage. If that’s not in Labour’s manifesto it’ll be a huge mistake.

        • Republicofscotland

          “The first thing we need to do is get rid of the unelected House of Lords, the idea of a mixed hereditary and appointed second chamber is an outrage. If that’s not in Labour’s manifesto it’ll be a huge mistake.”


          Labour has been promising to abolish or reform the HoL, since time in memoriam.

          Now Cromwell, On 19 March 1649, the House of Lords was abolished by an Act of Parliament, which declared that The Commons of England find by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England.

          The HoL is an overbloated chamber stuffed with party cronies, religious zealots loyal to the crown, failed politicians, and party donors.

          • Goose

            Were the HoL to be replaced with a Chamber of the Regions elected by proportional representation , it’d be a major step towards bringing our country into the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Note. The HoL has no revising role over the Scottish govt at Holyrood. The architect of devolution, Donald Dewar, wisely made sure of this, because he didn’t want an elected Scottish govt overruled by the UK HoL. So, it would be just a Chamber of the English regions + some Welsh and N.Ireland solution would have to found .. You can see why Westminster doesn’t want to go fully elected, can’t you.

            Blair promised 2 stage Lords reform, only giving us unsatisfactory stage 1 – which removed most, although not all of the hereditaries(many never attended anyway). Gordon Brown , under the desperate realisation he could lose in 2010 upped the ante:

            Labour’s 2010 manifesto included the following :


            – Public right to recall MPs not disciplined in Parliament after being found guilty of gross financial misconduct

            – Referendums on the alternative vote method of electing MPs and proportional representation in an elected House of Lords, before 2011

            – Fixed-term parliaments and free vote in the Commons on reducing the voting age to 16

            – MPs banned from working for lobbying companies and independent body to rule on applications from MPs to take second jobs.

            The trouble is, the HoL is useful to PMs for patronage and moving critics there out of the HoC.

            Tbh, we need major reform and I don’t see the politicians with the creativity and wisdom to do it. Look at the mess they’re making of Brexit.

        • Charles Bostock


          You are right, no one is proposing a referendum on abolishing the monarchy as Head of State but there are people around – the comments on this blog give a flavour – who would very much like to be rid of it.

          My point was simply that if you put that wish to the test today, you would find a great majority in favour of keeping the monarchy.

    • Michael McNulty

      Most of the people honoured today ie. businessmen, successful sportsmen and actors, are the same people revered by the Roman Empire ie. merchants, top gladiators and thespians. Similar with the Nazis. So we’ve not advanced far, socially speaking, when the people who keep the country running and most of us in one piece are always overlooked. Doctors, policemen, firemen, teachers etc, they’re the tops.

      • Tatyana

        I’m ashamed to miss this comment, Michael, I’m sorry. This reverberates much with me.

        In my daily life I deal with ordinary people, and I’m grateful for they do their service.
        They not just contribute to the society, they literally build it. Sometimes they go beyond their duty and they don’t expect any additional honour.
        One may have as much monarchs as they want, but what would they do without a doctor, or without a teacher? How to rule a society without the police? How to run a town without a fireman?

        • Charles Bostock

          Yes, Tat, and who performs the greater service : the doctor, the teacher, the police, the fireman? To which shorltist you can add dozens of other occupations. How about the rubbish collector, for example, or the sewage worker?

          BTW, re your “how to rule a society without the police?” : your choice of verb is revealing.

  • Charles Bostock

    There’s been a bit of anti-royal talk on this thread so let me issue a challenge to the ardent republicans.

    If there were a referendum to abolish the monarchy next month, and the monarchy were duly abolished, who would the republicans on here wish to see as the next Head of State and how, in broad lines, would they see the process of electing him/her (I’m assuming that people here would like to have him/her elected rather than “chosen” by their favorite pressure group or faction or sect) ?

    • Goodwin

      @Charles Bostock
      And would old, stupid people be allowed to vote just in case they made the wrong choice (eg Gina Miller disagrees with it), and there had to be another election, and another election etc etc?

    • Kempe

      Also would they want the the role of Head of State and Prime Minister combined as in the US or separate as is more typical in Europe? If the latter how much, if any, real power should the Head of State have?

      • Charles Bostock


        Have you noticed that no one responded to the challenge of answering our questions (instead, we had a Tat and RoSD -inspired diversion into English grammar 🙂 )

        This shows once again that those who go on vociferously about abolishing the monarchy fall silent when you ask them what other Head of State they would wish to see.

        • Republicofscotland

          Charles I did reply to your comment @1531pm, check my 1745 comment. You may have not noticed it because I forgot to address you by name.


          • Charles Bostock

            RoS, if your post at 17:49 was an answer, it was an answer to a question which I had’nt put.

            In other words, it was a diversion.

    • Ingwe

      Typically stupid ‘straw man’argument raised by Bostock. The head of state in a democracy would be the leader duly elected. Why do you need a replacement for a monarch?

    • Republicofscotland

      A similar set up as the US would probably suffice, the in office government appoints a secretary of state, with the consent of the HoC to carry out the duties. The person wouldn’t need millions spent on security, a private jet, or a yacht, nor would there be the expensive retinue that accompanies the royals. It would save an absolute fortune, money that could be spent elsewhere, on more needy projects.

      As for the who, well that would be up to the government along with the House to vote for.

      Yes you do make a good case for the abolition, even though its illegal to do so. As far as I know the 165-year-old law that threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment is technically still in force.

      • Tatyana

        I dare say, not every Prince makes a good King. You should eat what you are given.
        So, elected Head of State is better choice. And, I’m sorry to say this obvious but rather cruel idea, you can elect another Head of State in case you are not satisfied with current one.
        It is not the same with kings, one should wait for him/her to die, rarely they refuse the throne.
        I started learning English in my school 5th year, it was back in 1990 and I learned it as main course in the university. Yet still I wonder how do you people manage using ‘a’ and ‘the’??? Greatest mistery fo me. It is very very difficult to nderstand!

        • Republicofscotland

          On your English Tatyana, fear not you’re doing well, much better than we in Britain will ever achieve on learning Russian, apart from our blog host who I think also speaks Russian. I may be wrong when I say some folk are so conceited they expect everyone to speak English, without bothering to even learn a modium of the language of the country they visit.

          An elected head of state can be removed unlike a royal.

          • Tatyana

            Thanks for your kind words, proud Republic of Dignified Scotland 🙂
            I believe any language is studiable if you have a clue to difficult points. It is a question of good teacher or practice.

            Look at the USA, they currently have the Head of State which is not approved by nearly the half of the country. He surely sits in his chair at important meetings, but does he really rule the country? USA is a democracy.
            On the other hand, I could think of Brunei’s monarch. Brunei’s citizens have so many social benefits, that you can hardly find an opposition member there 🙂 Brunei is a monarchy.
            Here I can conclude, that the format of ruling is neglected if major part of the society is happy with what they have.

            The same with Russia. We have Putin, we know from our and from our living parents’ experience, there’s no better leader ( in our memory, contemporary relevant leader).
            That is why we approve him staying in the position. We see nobody better. More, we have no desire to experiment if there are better leaders. Putin does well. Лучше синица в руке, чем журавль в небе.

          • Republicofscotland


            Not a particularly good choice the Sultan of Brunei, who came under severe international fire recently because he wants to stone gay people to death, I think even he had the sense to publicly back track on that decision.

            I can of course understand why Putin’s popularity rate remains high with Russians. The west has incessantly attacked him and Russia for that matter, blaming both for everything from the Syrian war to Venezuelan resistance to interfering in US elections.

            I think if Russian’s and I might be wrong you will tell me if I am, would be more open to a change of president, (not Medvedev) if the west were a bit more friendly towards them, the seige mentality would fade I hope.

          • Tatyana

            When it comes to Brunei, I just wanted to take two opposing options and I didn’t intent to compare them in the whole. As to the gay people in Brunei – you can see how the monarchy deals with the social request. I’m sure the society of Brunei is ready to execute gay people, so the Sultan is aligning.

            Do you remember the guy, who made masse shooting in Utoya island? (Don’t want to type his name). Our news reported, that he demanded barbecue twice a month, and he was granted this. His arguments in the appeal were – his rights are restricted, not abolished.
            This man, in fact he achieved what he was heading to. This super duper tolerance makes no good.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ Tatyana May 12, 2019 at 20:50
            Putin is certainly a great leader IMO, and Russian’s are lucky to have him.
            He puts our ‘leaders’ to shame. There is no comparison.

          • Tatyana

            RoS, about changing Russian president if the West were more friendly
            I think that external politics is not the only reason for keeping Putin. We do really see great changes inside the country.

            The most annoying point is corruption.

            My generation had to begin our lives as we say ‘with naked ass’ – no property, no social benefits, no state’s support, no money, no jobs. Well, we were raised to live in USSR, but suddenly found ourselves living in the transiting state with vague perspectives.

            It took time to realise that there’s no crisis, it is simply stealing of our money! Enormous money stolen from us during privatisation, more stolen and driven abroad later, while the new law system had been yet under development.

            Many Russians approve and support Putin’s politics on oligarchs, on corrupt officials, on foreign owners of Russian land and resources.

            The country got some money, ok, mostly from exporting gas and oil, but we could at last develop agriculture and retail and bank system.

            Then, he and Medvedev’s government managed to modernize education system and provide relatively normal social benefits for families, especially for mothers. Now we are not afraid of having babies 🙂 we are sure we will not starve.

            They are not perfect, my government and my president, but they do well.

            As to the West, well, I think … Let them bark. They are obsessed with democracy, and I’m interested in much more simple things, like to stop corruption, to have quality food, to build good roads, to financially secure children and elderly and invalid people, there is also big problem with free medical care now, very low pensions etc.

            These are more important things for me than abstract talks about degree of democracy in Russia.

          • Tatyana

            To my above comment I should add, I’ve just realised what it all reminds me of 🙂 It is the popular trope in russian fairy tales!
            Ivan goes on a dangerous journey to fight a dragon and to save his fiancee (usually it is king’s daughter, so Ivan intends to marry her and to rule the country some day). He meets a Witch in the woods, and the Witch starts asking ‘who are you, where do you go’. Ivan answers ‘hey, Witch, firstly I need something to eat, something to drink, let me wash myself and have some rest. Then we will talk’.

            This is the good answer for any ‘W’. Basic needs first, then we will talk.

        • BrianFujisan

          I can see how that one would seem a mystery to you Tatyana

          I got Mystified myself coming up with Ideas to help you there..then thought It would only confuse you more.

          But your English is Great, well done.

          John Goss speaks some Russian I believe.

        • Godolphin

          ‘The’ is a definite article and ‘a’ and ‘an’ are indefinite articles.

          …So, (the) elected Head of State is (a) better choice. And, I’m sorry to say this obvious but rather cruel idea, you can elect another Head of State in case you are not satisfied with (the) current one…

          • Tatyana

            Godolphin, wow, just wow!
            When I see the corrected version, I can easily understand using of these damned articles. But if I write something by myself…. I feel stupified, as if you know the secret of the hocus-pocus 🙁

        • pete

          Re “I wonder how do you people manage using ‘a’ and ‘the’”
          ROS is right, you are much better at English that we – generally speaking – are at most other languages. I am informed by my partner that Welsh and Russian do not use the definite article ‘a’ and that Russian has no use of the ‘the’ in a sentence, as changes at the ends of particular words indicate the sense of the sentence. So the ‘the’ is redundant. Anyway, you always make yourself understood, that is the important thing.

        • Майкл Уиннер

          As a native English speaker and [an¹] ardent Russophile, I would offer you the following advice, Татья́на. It’s a little trick, but very effective (but only applies to written English, obviously).

          Make a habit of putting the/a² definite/indefinite article in wherever you possibly can (ie in front of nouns, but be careful: if they have qualifying adjectives or worse – sub-clauses – the³ “the/a” should precede the adjective or sub-clause!!) The trick is to then review what you’ve written, and “surgically” remove those articles you know “look/feel” wrong, which will get rid of most of them. Leave the rest in place.

          You’ll then find your success rate goes up dramatically. The difficulty for Russian speakers (and although I’m deceased, I should know ??†) is the/a² tendency to omit the definite/indefinite article, and not vice-versa.

          I notice that your English deteriorates slightly after long absences from this blog, and then rapidly improves when you start posting again, Таня. In fact, commenting on interactive blogs like this is perhaps the best way of advancing your language. In the old days, all we could do was watch films/movies to achieve this result. Keep up the good work ?

          ¹ “an” because the following word is a vowel (or an h). This rule is easy, and is all about vowel harmony and ease of speech / avoidance of glottal and other stops, &c

          ² you can use either, and your choice is a matter of style and emphasis. You can also do what I did and write “the/a” (or indeed: “a/the”) but I wouldn’t advise that, it rapidly becomes stale and is largely pointless

          ³ interestingly here usage is optional but, unless you’re a pop group from the 1980s (TheThe) a golden rule is never to put two articles together. Strictly correct to leave it in, but stylistically better to omit. A bit like the “hao ting” (“= sounds nice”) golden rule in Mandarin Chinese.

          • Tatyana

            Майкл Уиннер, thank you! Greatly appreciated!
            My another problem is lack of practice in spoken English. I hoped to find a live person near me to speak English sometimes, and it seems I have a chance!
            Recently I saw a man near my house entering the next door (my apologies, I still don’t know how to say ‘black skinned person’ and avoid being called rasist). When you see a person with this appearance in the street in Russia, you may be sure he speaks English!
            Yes, he said ‘thank you, Boris’ to another man, and must I say it was a pleasure to hear those gorgeous english wovels! Like good music.

            I smiled at him so wide and stared at him so long, I hope I didn’t scare him 🙂 hope to meet him again and perhaps have a talk 🙂

          • Майкл Уиннер

            You’re very welcome, Таня, and I’ll be pleased if that little trick helps. It helped many others, and is (as far as I know) of my own invention. I have many more of them.

            These blogs are a great help in language learning, and better still: you’re often witnessing language evolve in real time (this a bit deep, perhaps). Not only are you discussing themes of genuine personal interest, but also interacting with real native speakers with all their idiosyncrasies! It’s a win-win for all concerned!!

            Using every resource available (including black men next door) is an excellent idea, as long as you keep in control of the situation ????. Leave the politically correct bit for after the intermediate stage; don’t try to run before you can walk. In your case, however, I think you’re already well capable of a half-marathon!

            I wish you every success in your linguistic quest. Practice, practice, practice! Be confident! When I was struggling learning Mandarin, I had a “Road to Damascus” moment. If 1 400 000 Chinese can speak it, so can I ❗

            Kind regards, and good luck

      • Kempe

        ” The person wouldn’t need millions spent on security ”

        I think they might.

        The Treason Felony Act of 1848 hasn’t be used since 1878 and wouldn’t meet the ECHR. Doesn’t seem to worry this lot either.

        • Republicofscotland

          Jeez what an antiquated act that is, England will never change.

          “The last reported case under the Act in the United Kingdom was in 1883, although the Act was used in Australia in 1916 to prosecute the “Sydney Twelve”.”

          “In 1972 three Irish republicans Joseph Callinan, Louis Marcantonio and Thomas Quinn were initially charged with treason felony, although this was later dropped in favour of lesser charges of seditious utterances.”

      • lysias

        The current self-proclaimed monarchs of Britain are usurpers. A Stuart restoration would have the virtue of reversing the Battles of the Boyne and of Culloden.

        The Stuart line is extinct. I believe the current inheritor of their claim to the throne is the Princess of Liechtenstein.

        • Charles Bostock

          If the Stuart lie is extinct, how would there be a Stuart restoration? Virtuous or otherwise.

          BTW, democracy as most of us would understand it is not alive and well in Liechtenstein.

    • michael norton

      Charles, it is stunningly obvious
      Tony Blair for king,
      he is the right person for the job.

  • Wikikettle

    It will be a bitter pill to swallow, for the people charged with the ‘defense of the realm’, will have, with their own actions, brought about the break up of said realm. While these busy bees were financing, training and arming murderous fanatics to do their bidding, Rome burned.
    Perfectly relaxed about the rich getting super rich, laying waste to other countries and breaking up nation states. Kosovo yes, Catalan no.
    What will China and India do about the US blockade on India. Will Israel succeed in steering Trump to attack Iran. War war and war. Its down to China and India to stop this madness.

      • Sharp Ears

        Trump’s plan – get hold of Venezuela’s oil and then he has the freedom to attack Iran as Netanyahu so decrees.

      • SA

        I commented on Iran but sadly moderators didn’t like my comment. Don’t know why.

        • Tatyana

          SA, I think we all break the rules when commenting something off-topic. Mr. Murray, our kind host, must get very disappointed when we go discussing Iran (or ‘a’ and ‘the’) under the Royal Honour topic.

          There is special forum here on this site, what if we start discussion there? I think one weekly branch in the forum for everything off-topic is a good idea.

          • SA

            That sounds like an excellent idea, a weekly OT forum. But what I would like from the CM moderators is consistency, either delete all OT on a current forum or none, not selective deleting, that I object to I have to say. because it sounds discriminatory, which I think is not the intended.

          • Tatyana

            I’ve got even beter idea, it is very simple. If only admins and moderators could consider it….
            No need to delete off-topic comments, just turn them in pale italic script or maybe highlight them with some background, any other signal would do. Off-topic comments add so much to the discussion, it is pity to delete them.

  • Node

    On BBC2 tonight at 9pm : “One Day in Gaza : Documentary examining events in Gaza on May 14, 2018, when 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 injured during protests at the border with Israel.”

    Here’s how it is going to go. It will start with scathing criticism of Israel including hard-hitting sound bites describing cold-blooded snipers targetting civilians including children. Then, having established that it isn’t an Israeli propaganda piece, it will morph into precisely that. Witnesses will describe how Hamas used children as human shields while they attacked Israeli soldiers with kite bombs and suicide bombers, and leave us to conclude that the IDF was merely doing its job of protecting Israel – that yes, it used lethal force, but if it shows weakness it will be over-run by the enemies who besiege it on every side.

    I know that’s how it will be because it’s on the BBC.

  • Sharp Ears

    What are the implications of this change in the law proposed by Ms Mordaunt?

    Military prosecutions: ‘Unfair’ investigations to be barred

    Who decides what is ‘unfair’. Carte blanche in our next war on brown skinned people

    She is speaking currently at the HQ of the gangsters-in-charge, RUSI, ie Chatham House.

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