Queen still has plenty of in­flu­ence for Ki­wis

The Leader (Tasman) - - CONVERSATIONS -

CIT­I­ZENS AD­VICE COL­UMN: With great drama, the world’s me­dia re­cently camped out­side Buck­ing­ham Palace af­ter a meet­ing of the Queen’s house­hold was un­ex­pect­edly called.

The world won­dered, ‘‘Has the monarch or her hus­band died?’’

Af­ter all, Queen El­iz­a­beth II turned 91 in April this year, al­though New Zealand cel­e­brates her birth­day in June. But no, the an­nounce­ment was that at 96, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh was step­ping down from pub­lic life.

Some­thing as mo­men­tous as the death of the Queen wouldn’t been an­nounced like this. A pro­to­col named ‘‘Lon­don Bridge is down’’ is in place whereby the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter is im­me­di­ately in­formed, fol­lowed by other heads of Gov­ern­ment where the Queen is head of state.

At the same time, a no­tice will be placed out­side Buck­ing­ham Palace, and me­dia out­lets si­mul­ta­ne­ously no­ti­fied.

Such thoughts lead us to re­mem­ber two reg­u­lar in­flu­ences the Queen has on ev­ery­day life in New Zealand: the NZ Royal Hon­ours Sys­tem, and the Con­grat­u­la­tory Mes­sage ser­vice for sig­nif­i­cant birth­days and an­niver­saries.

You may won­der how the Queen de­cides who to honour, and how she knows when con­grat­u­la­tions are due.

The Hon­ours Sys­tem comes un­der the De­part­ment of the Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net (DPMC), and up un­til 1975 New Zealand shared in Bri­tain’s Honour Sys­tem. Since then, Hon­ours have in­creas­ingly be­come New Zealand Hon­ours, with the some re-nam­ing. For ex­am­ple, the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire is now NZ Or­der of Merit.

The Or­der of New Zealand, our high­est award, is lim­ited to 20 liv­ing per­sons, and has var­i­ous grades. Oth­ers in­clude the Queen’s Or­der of Merit and the Queen’s Ser­vice Medal.

Peo­ple who are seen to have con­trib­uted to so­ci­ety ‘above and be­yond the call of duty’ can be nom­i­nated by any­one, us­ing a form on the web­site dpmc.govt.nz.

The DPMC re­views these nom­i­na­tions twice yearly, and the Prime Min­is­ter sends the Queen, as our Head of State, a short­list to con­firm.

Hon­ours are an­nounced at New Year and June’s Queens Birth­day com­mem­o­ra­tion, though Gal­lantry and Brav­ery awards may be an­nounced pe­ri­od­i­cally.

Con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages are also ap­plied for man­u­ally or on­line, us­ing a form on the dia.govt.nz web­site.

Cards now re­place tele­grams, with the Queen send­ing cards on 60th, 65th, 70th and sub­se­quent wed­ding an­niver­saries; as well as 100th, 105th and sub­se­quent birth­days.

Since 2012, be­tween 260-350 birth­day cards were sent each year for 100th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions in NZ alone.

Send­ing con­grat­u­la­tory cards through­out the Com­mon­wealth on such an­niver­saries must keep the Queen fairly busy!

If you have ques­tions, or need ad­vice on any sub­ject, or want to nom­i­nate some­one for a na­tional or lo­cal award, Cit­i­zens’ Ad­vice Bureau vol­un­teers will find op­tions for you. And the ser­vice is free and con­fi­den­tial.

Queen El­iz­a­beth turned 91 in April this year.

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