FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair has been appointed a knight Companion of the Order of the Garter, a prestigious honour.
But what is the Order exactly, and why is his knighthood different?
Why is Tony Blair being knighted?
In December 2021, it was announced that former Tony Blair would be appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
It's common for former PMs to receive the honour, which has been given to his predecessors including Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
Knights are chosen personally by The Queen, with the invitation honouring people who have held public office, contributed to national life in a particular way, or who have personally served the Monarch.
A petition calling for Sir Tony's honour to be rescinded has over a million signatures.
Angus Scott, who launched the petition wrote that he had caused"irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society", and called for Sir Tony to be held accountable for "war crimes".
Responding to the criticism on Times Radio in January 2022, Sir Tony said he "expected" people to object to the decision to honour him, but said some people “want to say the only thing the government did was Iraq and ignore all the rest of the things we do”.
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He added: “Especially in today’s politics, you don’t occupy a position of leadership and take decisions without arousing a lot of opposition and so it didn’t surprise me.”
“The best thing is just to accept that of course there will be people who strongly oppose it and detest me for various reasons, and this is just what happens in politics.”
Why is his knighthood different?
Being knighted with this ranking is different from a normal knighthood.
The Order of the British Empire has two senior ranks: knight or Dame Grand Cross, and Knight or Dame Commander.
This is given to people who have made major contributions in any field, normally at a national level.
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These are traditionally presented with a touch of the sword by the monarch.
Musicians and actors like Sir Paul McCartney and Dame Judi Dench have received the senior OBE ranks.
But though those who have received this honour are also able to Knight and Dame ranks, it is different from the Order of the Garter.
What is the Order of the Garter?
The Order is the oldest order of knighthood, founded in the 14th century by King Edward III.
He was inspired by the tales of King Arthur and the chivalry showed by the Knights of the Round table, and sought to establish his own Order.
Seven centuries later, it is both the oldest and the most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain, according to the Royal Family's official website.
Its Latin motto is: "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which in English means "Shame on him who thinks this evil".
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- The Queen herself, who is Sovereign of the Garter
- Several Royal Family members
- 24 knights chosen in recognition of their achievements
You can find out more about the Order in our handy explainer here.
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