Wouldn’t you know it, in the middle of getting knighted for services to tea, my alarm went off and woke me up.
Still, I thought it could be an omen, so I checked the mail box to make sure there wasn’t anything official in it from Her Maj.
Nothing. Looks like I’ll be passed over again this time for the New Year’s Honours list.
Leaving out the obvious objections – firstly, there are two of us at the helm of our fledgling tea company, not just myself and secondly, we are yet to get a packet of loose leaf tea into every home on the planet – it must be said that I have cause to vent my ire at two factors that seem to work against me getting that knighthood, no matter how much I clearly deserve it.
Firstly, in 1986, the then Australian Government closed the book on Australians getting knighthoods. Why? They felt the Order Of Australia Medal, awarded by the Australian Government, should be our highest honour, not any honour handed out by the Queen.
Why? The Queen of England is also the Queen of Australia – it’s two separate titles – and she is our head of state.
The real reason, of course, is that a decade previously when that particular political party had a man as Prime Minister who I think can be best described as a charismatic dunderhead, Parliament was able to call on the Queen’s representative to sack him, and they have never forgotten it. So, it was a bit of anti-Monarchist revenge.
So, that’s one strike against me.
The second, though, is far more sinister – it is nothing less than a royal plot against tea merchants.
Sure, some honours do go to deserving people for fighting disease or poverty, but you can get knighted for warbling out a few uninspiring tunes, kicking a ball or riding a bicycle around and around and around and around. But my extensive research – I typed “Knighted for services to tea” into Google – comes up with nothing.
NOTHING? No one ever gets knighted for services to tea? Seems impossible to believe, considering how much of the stuff the Royals knock back.
I looked though all of the prominent tea companies and the nearest we get are Sir Edward Twining and Sir Thomas Lipton. But all is not as it seems.
Sir Edward was born about 200 years after Twinings was created, and though he was a descendant, he had a military career which included accidentally capturing a prominent Irish Republican (Eamon de Valera) and being Governor of two places that don’t really exist any more – North Borneo and Tanganyika. He never worked in the tea business, but he did write a book on the Crown Jewels of Europe. The fact that he wrote this tome – it’s over 700 pages long – shows he was a bit of a suck-up to royalty anyway, so clearly he got his Knighthood – and was even made a Baron – basically for being a pillar of the Establishment.
Now you might think Sir Thomas Lipton – Tommy to his friends, a Scot and certainly not upper class- earned his Knighthood via tea. But not really.
He was also a keen and very rich yachtsman and he was the most famous challenger ever for the America’s Cup (until it was won by Australians, of course) and his sailing chums included – wait for it – King Edward VII and King George V.
So, he does some pretty exciting things with tea: no knighthood. Then spends a fortune on yachting, rubs shoulders with Eddie and George, loses a few big races and hey presto, Sir Thomas Johnstone Lipton, Ist Baronet KCVO.
As a side story to this, the Australians who DID win the Americas Cup – no knighthoods. Most of Australia sat up all night to watch them win and there is a famous quote by our then Prime Minster, Bob Hawke: “Any boss who sacks a worker for not turning up today is a bum.”
Ironic considering he’s the same guy that then cut Australians of the knighthood list, or else these guys would each have an extra gong or two.
Anyway, so just to summarize, The reasons I am not Baron Devotea, Sir Robert Charles James Godden, KCTEA are:
- Australians cannot have knighthoods
- There is an anti-tea plot deep in the heart of the Monarchy
- I completely invented Knight Commander- TEA (KCTEA) . (But I shouldn’t have had to)
- I woke up
Pretty unfair, really.