Foreign honours for Hunt and May

21 December 2021

10:09 PM

21 December 2021

10:09 PM

Not many people here in Westminster have a good word to say about the Theresa May years. But down in tiny San Marino, all that appears to be very different. For the landlocked republic recently chose to lavish two of its most prestigious honours on May and her Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, with both flying there in October to have their honours conferred. Hunt received the prestigious Order of Saint Agatha at the rank Grand Officer; May’s was even better, receiving the same order at the highest rank: Grand Cross.

The awards were given, according to the Consulate of the Republic of San Marino to the UK, for May’s merits ‘not only as a former UK Prime Minister and and a strong woman in UK politics’ but for her work promoting the rights of women worldwide, while Hunt got his for ‘promoting San Marino best interests in the UK,’ for supporting the republic during the pandemic and for ‘his dedicated work in leading his own charity and supporting other charities worldwide.’

So far, so good, with the lucky pair being the first recipients of the Order for seven years, joining an elite group that includes Ban Ki Moon, Albert II and, er, Sophia Loren. Judging from the pictures, both seemed to have a jolly old time, with Hunt even making a brief speech underlining what the nations have in common. May too cracked a rare smile – presumably because she was skipping one of Boris Johnson’s three-line whips to go there.

But one question remains: did they get the Queen’s permission before accepting such gongs? For as the Foreign Office’s own website makes clear: ‘No UK citizen may accept or wear a foreign or Commonwealth award without The Sovereign’s permission. Such permission must be sought as soon as there is an indication that an award may be offered.’ Asked for a simple yes or no as to whether they had asked Her Majesty for her consent prior to accepting the awards, both Hunt and May did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

It’s not as if the two Tory grandees haven’t had adequate time to consult the monarch. Both had the award conferred on them a year ago by the government of the Republic of San Marino, but the official award ceremony wasn’t possible to organise until now due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place. The trip would have been long-planned, with May flying three people across including herself and husband Philip, and Hunt taking five. Total costs for the pair combined came to £15,480.

If they didn’t check with Her Maj, let’s just hope neither politician wears the award the next time they’re at one of her Buckingham Palace tea parties.

Screenshot_2021-12-21_at_09.46.11.pngThe Consulate of the Republic of San Marino to the UK

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments