The honours system

6. Having honours taken away

Honours can be taken away from people who have done something to damage the honours system’s reputation. Taking an honour away is called ‘forfeiture’.

For example, someone’s honour can be taken away if they are:

  • sentenced to prison for at least 3 months for a criminal offence
  • censured or struck off by a professional or regulatory body for something directly relevant to their honour (for example a doctor being struck off)

Other reasons for forfeiture can also be considered.

Forfeiture: what happens

The Honours Forfeiture Committee considers the case. Their discussions are confidential.

If the committee recommends an honour is withdrawn, the decision is sent to the Queen by the Prime Minister. The Queen decides if the honour should be forfeited.

If someone’s honour is forfeited it’s published in the London Gazette.