Queen snub: Tony Blair accused of being gong-blocker by stopping former PMs being honoured

Tony Blair gets quizzed on return to politics by radio host

The Times has reported that sources close to Buckingham Palace would like to address a political imbalance where Conservative Party figures outnumber Labour figures be more than five to one in being rewarded with the four most coveted honours. These are the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Order of Companions of Honour. From the 102 posts across these highest honours, Tories figures hold 22 and Labour counterparts just four – and only one more than the Liberal Democrats.

There have been nine Prime Minister’s during the Queen’s reign as monarch and all but one before Mr Blair were made Knights of the Garter.

During Her Majesty’s current 40 year reign, Labour has governed for more than a quarter (13 years).

Mr Blair left office in 2007 after more than a decade as Prime Minister but has yet to become known as Sir Tony – despite previous leaders including John Major and Margaret Thatcher being given the Order of the Garter.

The prestigious honour is limited to 24 people at any one time and the only exception to the rule – former Tory Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home – was awarded the Order of the Thistle in 1962.

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But The Times has reported efforts to award Gordon Brown with the Order of the Garter have hit a speedbump because the Queen is reluctant to bestow the same honour on Mr Blair, who reportedly angered senior royals with his handling of the death of Princess Diana.

A source close to the Palace told the newspaper: “There is concern in the palace that the senior orders are beginning to look politically unbalanced.”

Royal courtiers would like Mr Brown to be made a Knight of the Thistle to avoid the embarrassment of making him a Knight of the Garter ahead of former Labour colleague Mr Blair.

The source said: “Blair is the block because they just won’t do it.

“Which means Brown and Theresa May, who they think should have something, are blocked.

“They could leapfrog him but they’re now looking at giving Brown the Thistle because he is Scottish.”

The insider said the issue is that only a handful of ministers and high-profile politicians are regarded to have had important enough careers to be rewarded with such a prestigious honour.

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The source added: “You obviously couldn’t give anything to [Jeremy] Corbyn, even if he would accept it, which is unlikely.”

If royal officials do press ahead with a plan to address the political imbalance with these honours, senior figures such as former Prime Minister Lord Prescott and former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett could benefit.

Margaret Beckett and Harriet Harman, who both served as acting Labour leaders, could also benefit from any attempt at rebalancing.

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