Thousands call for change to one of Queen's highest honours amid claims it is 'racist'

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
One side of the Order of St Michael and St George. (PA)

A petition is calling for one of the Queen’s highest honours to be redesigned as campaigners say it resembles a white man killing a black man.

Thousands of people have signed a petition which was started last week, noting a similarity between the medal for the Order of St Michael and St George and the way George Floyd died in Minneapolis.

The badge of the order has St George fighting the dragon on one side, and the archangel St Michael trampling Satan on the other. 

On the petition, Tracy Reeve wrote: “The image on the Honorary Knights/Dames Commander (KCMG/DCMG) star is a white skinned angel stood on the head/neck of a black skinned devil.

“This is a highly offensive image, it is also reminiscent of the recent murder of George Floyd by the white policeman in the same manner presented here in this medal. 

“We the undersigned are calling for this medal to completely redesigned in a more appropriate way and for an official apology to be given for the offence it has given!”

Angelina Jolie is an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. (Getty Images)
The Queen with the Duke of Kent, the Grand Master of the Order (centre right) and the Lord Mayor of the City of London after a Service of the Order of St Michael and St George. (PA)

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Many of the signatories have agreed that the medal needs “updating” or “modernising”.

The Order of St Michael and St George was founded in 1818 by the then prince regent, who became George IV, when the Ionian islands were placed under British protection.

The order recognised the distinguished citizens of the Islands and then Malta, and now honours service in British territories and foreign affairs.

Sir Simon Woolley, the director and one of the founders of Operation Black Vote, told The Guardian: “The original image may have been of St Michael slaying Satan, but the figure has no horns or tail and is clearly a black man. It is a shocking depiction, and it is even more shocking that that image could be presented to ambassadors representing this country abroad.

“For most black and brown people, there is nothing good about the empire. Most people will see this as an image of George Floyd on a global scale and a symbol of white supremacy.”

Michael Palin with his medals after being appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. (Getty Images)

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The Queen is in the order, and the Duke of Kent is the Grand Master. Others in the order include actor Angelina Jolie, astronaut Tim Peake, presenter and actor Michael Palin, and several former governor-generals of Commonwealth nations.

There are 125 Knights and Dames Grand Cross, 375 Knights and Dames Commander, and 1750 Companions.

The Cabinet Office has been contacted by Yahoo UK.

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