Opinion: No Sir

POSTED: 06/17/11 2:21 PM

There is a weird brew of lingo for the royally decorated in use on our island. The great late film maker Ian Valz is among those citizens whom media on occasion referred to as Sir Ian Valz. Bobby V., who was in court this week, also is commonly referred to as Sir Bobby.

The late Ian and Bobby have one thing in common: they earned a royal decoration at some point if their life from H.M. Queen Beatrix. For some reason we have been unable to determine these decorations have  inspired their recipients to add the honorific prefix Sir to their name. The Dutch royal decoration system however does not acknowledge this.

In Great Britain the honorific Sir is reserved for citizens who have been knighted. Britons in the elite class of Knight (or Dame) Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, and Knight (or dame) Commander of the Order of the British Empire automatically are entitled to add the honorific Sir or dame to their name.

Pop stars Elton John and Paul McCartney do not have a knighthood, yet they are entitled to the Sir that does not belong in front of the names of Bobby V. and Ian Valz. This is because they also received a Knights Bachelor (the most basic rank for a knight in the British honor system) for their achievements in entertainment.

In the Dutch honor system, the decoration Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Nassau translates as Knight in the order of Orange Nassau. This is the source of the confusion: in English Bobby and Ian have been knighted, but their well-earned decorations cannot stand in the shadow of the highest decoration in the British system. They are on the lowest rung of a very respectable ladder, just above the Honorary Medal for Humanitarian Assistance.

Oh, Dutch ridders should be addressed (mainly in writing) as hoogwelgeboren. Go find a translation for that one.

All this does not take away that our decorated citizens are an asset to our community. But one thing is certain: there is no Sir involved. No Sir.


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Comments (1)


  1. alez says:

    Hoogwelgeboren: born of a high order.
    Suggested address: B.H.O(English) or H.W.G(Dutch) as a suffix to their normal names. Something similar is also done in Britain. OBE, CBE, etc