To knight tonight?
Well, the queen has rung up our man Bono and made him a Knight. Word is, the Prime Minister is delighted. Unfortunately, no one else seems to be.
The announcement of Knighthoods is usually done on New Year’s eve, but the Prime Minister’s office leaked this one a week early which has pissed off quite a few people. British politicians have lashed out. Bob Russell, who represents the Army town of Colchester, said:
“This breaks all precedents and is an insult to others who have to wait until next week to have their honours announced. My town has lost many servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan but Mr Blair is more concerned about handing baubles to rock stars.”
Ex-Tory minister Ann Widdecombe said, “I fail to understand why Bono should be singled out for an early announcement when the honours list is full of people who have worked hard. It is demeaning to them and is a typical New Labour manipulated news stunt.”
The press has been quick to point out that as Bono is not a British citizen, he cannot be called “Sir” Bono, nor will the knighthood confer any honours or title onto his descendants. It has also been cynically noted that this announcement comes at a time when U2’s greatest hits album is struggling up the UK charts.
But there has been a huge amount of grumbling over here in Ireland as well. U2 is Ireland’s biggest musical success story and to have Ireland’s favoured son receive an award that is a holdover from the British Empire rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Remember Ireland only won her freedom from Britain in 1922 – this is recent history to some folks.
Here is an excerpt from one Irish poster on politics.ie: “An Irish rock star that likes to pretend he cares about ending world hunger, accepts to become an ambassador of the British Empire . . . a regime that is responsible for . . . the conditions that created the famines that gobshites like this now claim to want to end. Hypocrisy anyone?”
It, of course, remains to be seen if Bono will accept the honour. There have been several noteables that have had problems with being knighted, John Lennon, Sean Connery, Liam Neeson and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney. Of course, Bob Geldoff accepted his knighthood, so chances are Bono will as well.
A lot of Irish people who may have ambivalent feelings about Bono’s being knighthood are angry about the knee-jerk Irish reaction against it, claiming that such complaints are not against Bono or his knighthood, but part of a wide-spread Irish mentality that objects to anything British.
Well, Bono, over to you – to knight or not to knight?