Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Title 'Chevalier'

Chevalier Charles Coulombe has been a friend of mine for over a quarter century. Not a 'Facebook friend' or an 'online friend', but a friend with whom I have imbibed wine and discussed profound subjects. It is true that he has been honoured by the Holy See with a Papal Order of Knighthood, but I am constantly bothered and irked by references to him as 'Sir Charles'. No Orders of Knighthood other than those of the British Crown are 'Sir N.', and even then the prefix is used only by citizens of the Commonwealth. Ergo, even if he had been granted an honour such as Knight of the British Empire by Her Majesty, he would not be 'Sir Charles'. He would be simply Mr Charles Coulombe, KBE, if he chose to use the postnominal, which most non-Commonwealth citizens do not. For instance, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath (GCB), but never used the postnominal.

I have another friend who was recently knighted by HRH Dom Duarte, de jure King of Portugal. as a Knight of the Order of Merit of the Portugal Royal House. He is not 'Sir N'. He is a Cavaleiro da Ordem do Mérito da Casa Real Portuguesa.

For reference:

  • Only citizens of the British Commonwealth use the courtesy titles Sir and Dame. The British knighthoods granted to citizens of other countries are honorary. Honorary knights do not use the titles Sir or Dame.
  • Knights in countries other than Britain rarely have any kind of prefix that shows they are knights.
Naming Conventions for Knights,

However, Charles is a knight, and I wish to acknowledge that. Were he German, I would refer to him as 'Ritter', if he were Italian, it would be 'Cavaliere', but since he is of proud French descent, I choose to use the French term for knight, 'Chevalier'.

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