February 1st, 2012
12:30 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – It’s one of the great oddities of the former British Empire – the Queen’s Honour List.

Every year people eagerly await the letter from the Queen to inform them if they have received a knighthood, a lordship, an OBE (Order of the British Empire) etc.

I know there is some incredibly crucial ranking to all this, and it’s all very important to some, but don’t ask me to explain it or agree with it. I do know that being awarded a life peerage (a non-hereditary lordship) gets you, no surprise, into the House of Lords - see the likes of Lord Coe of the London Olympics or Lord Webber of musicals. But a knighthood only gives you the right to be called “Sir,” as with Sir Elton John or Sir Paul McCartney.

Until Tuesday evening, Fred Goodwin, the former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO, was known as Sir Frederick Anderson Goodwin, a result of being knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list in June 2004. (Note: CNN doesn’t tend to recognize British honorary titles, so he was always just “Fred Goodwin” to us anyway).

But he was stripped of his knighthood, the UK government announced in a statement Tuesday, as he "had brought the honours system in to disrepute.” It added: "The scale and severity of the impact of his actions as CEO of RBS made this an exceptional case.”

Goodwin was the CEO when RBS fought off other banks to take over Dutch bank ABN Amro in October of 2007 - and then shed thousand of jobs during the merger, and near collapse of the bank.

Bad timing.

The engorged RBS was effectively nationalized by the UK government in late 2008 and is still majority owned by the taxpayer.

To many in the British public, he was just “Fred the Shred,” thanks to some headline writer at a UK tabloid. Yet Goodwin has not been convicted, or even charged, with any crime related to the financial crisis. Hence, he hasn’t done anything criminal - yet he joins the ranks of Robert Mugabe and Nicolae Ceausescu at being stripped of a knighthood.


Goodwin became the poster child - the British face - of the crisis of 2008 and so he is now also the scapegoat. For many it just stuck in the throat when they had to call him “Sir” Fred or write “Sir Fred.” The country can now sleep peacefully as they simply address him as “Mr. Goodwin,” noting he was allowed to retire in January 2009 with his sizeable pension intact, even though politicians vowed to claw it back.

Goodwin did eventually agree to take less for his retirement every year, but he still earns $500,000 or so annually for his years at the top of RBS, between 2001 and 2009.

Instead, they have “clawed back” something that is almost a precious as money to some in this country: An honor from the Queen.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. derek


    February 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Reginald

    your reporting from London (GBP) about a UK bank (GBP) so why not report his pension in...you guessed it...GBP!

    February 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  3. Alan

    How about money back first of all, then pay for responsibilities and go to jail? Oooohhh, poor corsair, he lost his knighthood. Let's cry for him.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  4. wjk

    The british are a bunch of loons. Bow to the queen... not in my bloody lifetime.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  5. Jimbo

    With all these fat pensions, one can only hope its a short retirement for the lot of them

    February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Pozzocafone

    Knighthood is a thing of the past....

    February 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  7. Patti

    No removal of knighthoods for convicted criminal and jailbird Sir Jeffery Archer – who got his for Kurdish charity work which turned out to have only raised £3million and not the £50 million plus claimed. Yes there are double standards at work – politicians get away with it.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  8. Derek

    Typical british behavior; mean, spiteful, and vindictive.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  9. Ian Sankey

    A knight used to be gentleman who displayed valour and extreme courage in the face of overwhelming odds on the battlefield. Today 'knighthoods' are dished out to anyone prepared to fund a political party or anyone popular enough that the royals can try to appear 'cool' associating with.... they mean nothing. 'Sir Alan Sugar' please.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  10. jakson

    strange girl What do you de Ptsaly


    February 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  11. Mr. "Know It Al"l who really doesn't know everything~

    When I heard about this yesterday, I was devastated. It upset me so bad that I cried myself to sleep, and woke up crying about it this morning. What is this world coming to?

    This is absolutely horrible! Doesn't anyone realize what happens now? He will no longer be referred to as "Sir", or His Lordship.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  12. Mr. "Know It All" who really doesn't know everything~

    When I heard about this yesterday, I was devastated. It upset me so bad that I cried myself to sleep, and woke up crying about it this morning. What is this world coming to?

    This is absolutely horrible! Doesn't anyone realize what happens now? He will no longer be referred to as "Sir", or His Lordship.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  13. anonymous

    This is completly unfair, Sir Fred the Shred popularised the 'Fidelity Fiduciary Bank Sing Along' song;


    No bad for someone who didn't even have any banking qualifications. The current leadership at RBS have also been publically humiliated unfairly as well by not accepting their multimillion dollar bonuses. Folks don't realise how difficult it is to keep a completely bankrupt and insolvent organisation going, by running fraudulent double accounting double book keeping by needing that half trillion dollar Federal reserve cash injection (which doesn't appear on the published balance sheet)

    February 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  14. Guy

    I don't know the guy, but whatever he has done BAD or GOOD – Who cares about knighthood in 2012??? Really UK, get with the times and focus on real issues.

    February 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  15. TheOldOne

    Why don't they rather strip the adulterer Charlie of his Princehood? The Brits are really living in the middle ages with their inherited "royalty" while gullibly believing their "leaders" telling them all people are supposedly "equal"!

    February 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  16. Alan

    I doubt all of RYBS problems were because of him .He cannot be required to keep jobs for everyone during a banking crisis
    Thats life companies close .We need more entrepeneurs and less hangers on Get a life employee start your own business
    As for Royalty They just joined the band wagon trashing him to keep themselves in favour A PR stunt of note against a man who has no criminal conviction and is substantially poorer than the royal family.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  17. ศิษย์วัฒนา

    Wow, superb weblog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog glance easy. The overall glance of your site is excellent, as neatly as the content material!

    April 22, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  18. Eliyash

    Personally, I think he should keep every penny he can get. The whole moirtaly issue is a farce. He screwed up cos the system allowed him to screw up; he walked away with what he did cos the system allowed him to walk away with what he got it should highlight the shortfall in the system thats where change should come not through some airy fairy notion of moirtaly that is ignored when times are good and touted when we see someone making money at the expense of others who fail ..when the system under which we function is changed for the better- the moirtaly would be enforced good time or bad.

    May 15, 2012 at 9:09 am |

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