Queen still has plenty of influence for Kiwis
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.