- The Right Honourable
The Right Honourable (abbreviated as "The Rt Hon.") is an
honorificprefix that is traditionally applied to certain people in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Anglophone Caribbeanand other Commonwealth Realms, and occasionally elsewhere.
People entitled to the prefix in a personal capacity are:
* Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and the
Privy Council of Northern Ireland.
**This includes the current and all former Prime Ministers, all current and former members of the
Cabinet of the United Kingdom, a committeeof the Privy Council, with the exception of those who have resigned from the Privy Council;
Barons, viscounts and earls ( marquesses are " The Most Honourable" and dukes are " The Most Noble" or "His Grace", and, if Privy Counsellors, retain these higher styles. Scottish Feudal Baronsand Lairdsare " The Much Honoured" ); and
* The holders of certain offices of state in
Canada, including the Governor General, Prime Minister and Chief Justice.
In addition, some people are entitled to the prefix in an official capacity, i.e. the prefix is added to the name of the office, not the name of the person:
Lord Mayors of London, Cardiff, Belfastand York; and of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbaneand Hobart; and
Lord Provosts of Edinburghand Glasgow.
All other Lord Mayors are "The Right Worshipful", other Lord Provosts do not use an honorific.
The prefix is also added to the name of various corporate entities, e.g.:
* The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal (of the United Kingdom &c.) in Parliament Assembled (the
House of Lords);
* The Right Honourable the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses (now usually the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom &c.) in Parliament Assembled (the House of Commons)Fact|date=October 2007 ; and
* The Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (the Board of Admiralty)
* The Right Honourable the Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations (the
Board of Trade)
See also the corporate use of "Most Honourable," as in "The Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council" (the
Use of the honorific
The honorific is normally used only on the front of envelopes and other written documents: for example, the Rt Hon.
Ann WiddecombeMP is otherwise referred to simply as "Miss Widdecombe".
In the House of Commons, members refer to each other as "the honourable member for ..." or "the "right" honourable member for ..." depending on whether or not they are Privy Councillors. Members usually refer to those in their own party as, "My (right) honourable friend", and to those in other parties as "the (right) honourable lady / gentleman"
When a married woman holds this style, she uses her own given name in her style. So, when
Margaret Thatcherwas made a Privy Councillor her formal style changed from "Mrs Denis Thatcher" to "The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher".
Outside the United Kingdom
Generally within the Commonwealth, ministers and judges are "
The Honourable" unless they are appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, in which case they are "The Right Honourable". Such persons generally include Prime Ministers and judges of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, and several other Commonwealth prime ministers.
Australiasome Premiers of the Australian colonies in the 19th century were appointed members of the UK Privy Council and were thus entitled to be called "The Right Honourable". After Federation in 1901, the Governor-General, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Prime Minister and some other senior ministers held the title. There has never been an Australian Privy Council.
In 1972 Labor Prime Minister
Gough Whitlamdeclined appointment to the Privy Council, but the practice was resumed by Malcolm Fraserin 1975. In 1983 Bob Hawkedeclined the appointment, and the appointment of Australians to the Privy Council was abolished in 1986. The last Governor-General to be entitled to the style was Sir Ninian Stephen. The last politician to be entitled to the style was Ian Sinclairwho retired in 1998.
The only living Australians holding the title "The Right Honourable" for life are:
Doug Anthony, former Deputy Prime Minister
*Sir Zelman Cowen, former Governor-General
Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister
Ian Sinclair, former Leader of the National Party and Speaker of the House of Representatives
*Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor-General
*Reginald Withers, former Senator, Minister, and Lord Mayor of Perth.
The Lord Mayors of
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaideand Hobartare styled "The Right Honourable", but the style (which has no connection with the Privy Council) attaches to the title of Lord Mayor, and not to their names, and is relinquished upon leaving office. Reginald Withers holds the title Right Honourable for life because he was a member of the Privy Council before he was elected Lord Mayor of Perth.
In Canada, members of the
Queen's Privy Council for Canadareceive the honorific "The Honourable," with only the occupants of the most senior public offices being made "The Right Honourable," as they used to be appointed to the British Privy Council.
"L'Honorable" and "le Très Honorable" are used in French by the federal government, but the
Office québécois de la langue française(the Quebecgovernment body setting standards for the French language in Quebec) considers them improper loan expressions and advises the use of "Monsieur" and "Madame" (Mr. and Ms.) instead.
Individuals who hold, or have held, the following offices are awarded the style "The Right Honourable" for life:
Governor General of Canada
Prime Minister of Canada
*the Chief Justice of Canada.
(Governors General also use the style "His/Her
Excellency" during their term of office.)
Before the style Rt. Hon. came into use for all prime ministers, three prime ministers did not have the style as they were not British Privy Councillors. These were the Hon
Alexander Mackenzie, the Hon. Sir John Abbottand the Hon. Sir Mackenzie Bowell.
Several prominent Canadians (mostly politicians) have become members of the
Privy Council of the United Kingdomand have thus been entitled to use the title Right Honourable, either because of their services in Britain (e.g. serving as envoys to London) or as members of the Imperial War Cabinetor due to their prominence in the Canadian Cabinet. These include:
John A. Macdonald(1879)1
*Sir John Rose (1886)
John Sparrow David Thompson(1894)1
Samuel Henry Strong(1897)4
Richard John Cartwright(1902)
Henri Elzéar Taschereau(1904)4
Robert Laird Borden(1912)1
George Eulas Foster(1916)
Louis Henry Davies(1919)4
Lyman Poore Duff(1919)6
Arthur Lewis Sifton(1920)
William Thomas White(1920)
William Lyon Mackenzie King(1922)1
William Stevens Fielding(1923)
Francis Alexander Anglin(1925)4
George Perry Graham(1925)
George Halsey Perley(1931)
Louis St. Laurent(1946)2
James Lorimer Ilsley(1946)
Clarence Decatur Howe(1946)
Ian Alistair Mackenzie(1947)
James Garfield Gardiner(1947)
John George Diefenbaker(1957)1
Lester Bowles Pearson(1963)1
1 - As Prime Minister.
2 - Tupper was appointed when he was no longer Prime Minister and St. Laurent was appointed when he was a cabinet minister under Mackenzie King.
3 - Massey became Governor General over a decade later. He was made "Right Honourable" while serving as Canada's
High Commissionerto London.
4 - As
Chief Justice of Canada
5 - As
Governor General of Canada.
6 - Duff did not become Chief Justice until 1933.
Canadian appointments to the British Privy Council were ended by the government of
Lester Pearson. Since then, the style may be granted for life only by the Governor General to eminent Canadians who have not held any of the offices that would otherwise entitle them to the style. It has been granted to the following individuals:
Paul Joseph James Martin(1992)
Members of the
Privy Council of Irelandwere entitled to be addressed as "The Right Honourable" until the Privy Council was abolished with the creation of the Irish Free Statein 1922; nevertheless, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, like his counterparts in the United Kingdom, retained the usage of the honorific after this time as a result of a separate conferring of the title by law; in 2001 the honorific was removed as a consequence of local governmentlaw reform. The Lord Mayor of Corkhas never been entitled to the title.
The remaining members of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland are entitled to be styled "The Right Honourable".
New Zealand, the Prime Minister and some other senior cabinet ministers have customarily been appointed to the British Privy Council and styled "The Right Honourable". The current Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has not recommended any new Privy Counsellors.
At present, there are only two Privy Counsellors in the New Zealand government:
Helen Clark, appointed upon becoming Prime Minister in 1999, and Winston Peters, appointed in 1996. Privy Counsellors recently retired include the former Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, and former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, appointed in 1990. Senior Judges are also often appointed as Privy Counsellors.
The Republic of Turkey
The President of the Council of State of the Republic of Turkey, is also styled with the prefix "The Right Honourable" [http://www.danistay.gov.tr/eng/index.html] .
The Council of State of the Turkish State was transformed from the "Supreme Council for Judicial Regulations (Meclis-i Vala-i Ahkam-ı Adliye)" of the Imperial Ottoman State, and thus imported with it the various titles and honorifics in such era.
The Most Honourable
The Much Honoured
Style (manner of address)
Use of courtesy titles and honorifics in professional writing
* [http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/pe/titre_e.cfm Current list of Canadian notables possessing some form of honorific] (incl. "Rt. Hon.")
* [http://www.privy-council.org.uk/output/Page76.asp Members of the British Privy Council]
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