Use of word 'empire' in honours awards is 'icky', says OBE recipient

11 June 2021, 17:24

Poppy Jaman OBE on 'Empire' use: 'It puts a pause in the celebration.'

By Tim Dodd

The use of the word empire in honours awards is 'icky' and in need of 'modernisation', Poppy Jaman OBE has told Shelagh Fogarty.

Her words amid fresh calls to replace ‘empire’ with ‘excellence’ in the UK honours system due to concerns over its imperialist connotations.

The honours system recognises people who have made achievements in public life or committed themselves to serving and helping Britain.

Poppy Jaman was awarded her OBE in January 2018 for services to people with mental health issues.

She began by telling Shelagh: "It's a branding and and it's an inclusion agenda, it's a modernisation agenda. Why are we using the word empire, when the empire no longer exists?

"And actually for some of us, there's another agenda, which is the 'empire' doesn't resonate, it's not all amazing, and actually it's been quite hurtful to many people around the world. It's had some positives, but I think this word puts a hesitation and pause in the celebration of receiving something so amazing.

"I am so proud to be British-Bengali, and receiving the honour and going to the palace was one of the proudest days of my life. But in the lead up to it, I spent three weeks thinking whether I could accept it. And then, everytime it comes up in conversation, I have to always go - but the word Empire."

Shelagh Fogarty gives her stance on the honours system

Shelagh then said: "And looking more closely at the medal. It says around the centrepiece on the CBE 'For God and the Empire'. It feels very turn of the century, as in 19th to 20th century."

Poppy replied: "Yeah, and wording is really important. Organisations spend millions rebranding in order to remain relevant, appropriate, keeping up with the times.

"For me, this is part of our British heritage - the honours system and recognising people in civil society - people that have done amazing things and led on amazing agendas like homelessness, services to women in sports - these are some of my colleagues who've received their honours.

"And all of us when we talk about it are like ugh, there's an ickiness around it."

The honours, which are usually awarded during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, have different ranks, including knight, dame, commander 'of the British Empire' (CBE), officer of the British Empire (OBE), and member of the British Empire (MBE).

More Shelagh Fogarty News

See more More Shelagh Fogarty News

The Princess of Wales says she edited the photograph that was released to mark Mother's Day.

The insistence that we see Kate is tantamount to stalking, writes Shelagh Fogarty

Caller tells Shelagh his solution to illegal immigration.

LBC caller tells Shelagh Fogarty that the Channel islands are the answer to 'illegal immigration'

'Rishi Sunak chooses to do the self interested party politics': Shelagh Fogarty reflects on Tories' immigration policies

'Rishi Sunak chooses to do the self-interested party politics': Shelagh Fogarty reflects on Tories' migration policies

Shelagh Fogarty

Former Treasury official outlines 'three immediate priorities' likely to be reflected in Autumn Statement

Shelagh Fogarty

Suella Braverman's hardline crime bill seems like she's ‘interviewing' for career at ‘pathetic’ news channels, says caller

Shelagh and caller Sam

Anti-Semitic chants and actions 'delegitimize' pro-Palestinian cause asserts this Shelagh Fogarty caller

Shelagh and Ricardo Dos Santos

'It's sickening': Ricardo Dos Santos speaks to Shelagh Fogarty as two officers sacked over stop and search


Rishi Sunak has 'failed monumentally' to 'humanise' both sides of the Israel-Hamas conflict says Israel expert

Shelagh and Callum

Twitter is a 'particularly dangerous' place to get information now says the Centre for Countering Digital Hate

Shelagh and caller Simon

LBC caller details 'disgusting anti-Semitic' act he witnessed, as hate crimes rise in fall out of Israel-Hamas war

Sister of missing Israeli woman

'We hope she's hiding somewhere': Sister of missing Israeli festival goer fears she is being held hostage by Hamas

Distraught caller on Israel-Gaza conflict.

'This is a war against Hamas!': Distraught caller wants Israel and Palestine to take down the 'enemy' together

Shelagh and Alicia Kearns

Head of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee expresses concern over Israeli 'siege of Gaza'

Shelagh Fogarty caller on facial recognition.

This caller lacks 'trust' in the government's handling of the AI facial recognition debate

Shelagh condemns PM's comments on 'dignity' of the elderly.

'He painted a picture of a Britain that the Conservatives meant to build...': Shelagh Fogarty condemns PM's suggestion that elderly have 'dignity'

Shelagh Fogarty on Jenrick

'We're full aren't we?': Shelagh questions Robert Jenrick's motive behind encouraging Brits to increase birth rate