Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Robert Mugabe stripped of KCB

Robert Mugabe has been stripped of his knighthood by the Queen, which was given to him in 1994, when he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. But what is the Order of the Bath?

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was founded on May 18th 1725 by George I, and derives its name from the medieval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved a ritual of bathing to symbolise purification.

It has three classes of members, being the Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GCB); the Knight Commander (KCB) or Dame Commander (DCB); and a Companion (CB). In addition it has the Sovereign (the current Queen), and a Great Master (Prince Charles). The order's chapel is at Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

The order also has six officers, being the Dean, the Bath King of Arms (responsible for heraldry), the Registrar and Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, the Genealogist, and the Gentleman Usher of the Scarlet Rod. Previously there was a seventh officer, the Messenger, but this role was abolished in 1859.

Other orders of chivalry include the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick and the Most Noble Order of the Garter. No knighthoods have been conferred through the Order of Patrick since the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922. The Order of the Bath is the fourth in order of seniority.

Mugabe was bestowed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, which allowed him to use the KCB letters after his name, but not the title "Sir". At his last investiture as President, he wore the Order's star on his left breast pocket. Not any more!

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