UK

Royal honours system is a ‘patriarchal heteronormative relic’, says Labour MP

Sir Ben Bradshaw MP, after receiving his knighthood for political and public service during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Victoria Jones/PA)
Sir Ben Bradshaw MP, after receiving his knighthood for political and public service during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Victoria Jones/PA) Sir Ben Bradshaw MP, after receiving his knighthood for political and public service during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Victoria Jones/PA)

A Labour MP has called the royal honours system a “patriarchal heteronormative relic” after being given a knighthood at Windsor Castle.

Sir Ben Bradshaw, who served in both Sir Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments and was only the second MP to be openly gay when elected in 1997, was honoured for political and public service as his husband Neal Dalgleish looked on.

The Exeter MP told the PA news agency: “The honour system is a bit of a patriarchal heteronormative relic in a way.

“A same-sex spouse doesn’t get recognition the same way the wife of a knight does.”

He added that he wanted to receive the honour on behalf of his constituents who have supported him “for the last 26 years”.

The 63-year-old, who faced homophobic abuse when he was first elected 26 years ago, said he is “worried” about LGBTQ+ human rights in the UK.

He said: “Progress and improvement are never linear … We’ve made huge strides over the time I’ve been in Parliament, but there are definitely forces now who want to turn the clock back.

“Whatever I do in retirement, I intend to stay engaged in continuing the fight for dignity, human rights and equality for everybody.”

Dr Parvinder Aley, director of global operations for the Oxford Vaccine Group, was made an OBE for services to vaccination during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Investitures at Windsor Castle Dr Parvinder Aley, awas made an OBE by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle (Victoria Jones/PA)

She played a critical role in the clinical trials of the Oxford/AZ Covid vaccine in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

Speaking to PA, she said: “It was quite a surprise receiving this honour and the important thing is this was a major team effort.

“So it always feels a bit surreal when one name is put forward, but this was an effort across teams in the UK, Brazil and South Africa to get this result.”

Dr Aley said she slept more when she had her twin daughters than during the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020.

She said: “The key thing was making sure that we deliver the clinical trial as quickly as possible without compromising on the safety and the quality of the data.

“That was built on an infrastructure of a team of people that have been doing this for decades, and so by using that skill set we were to make sure that we could deliver rapidly.”

Stella McLaren also received the Royal Victorian Medal for her hat-making services to the late Queen.