13 JANUARY 1996, Page 26

Of honourable importance

Sir: Sir Ludovic Kennedy asks at the end of his article whether honours matter and, if so, to whom? (`Thatcher stopped my knighthood', 6 January).

Presumably to Sir Ludovic himself, as he appears to have rejected one honour (the CBE) as not being grand enough. What is more surprising about Sir Ludovic's accep- tance of a knighthood is his avowed repub- licanism. The honour of knighthood is the quintessential affirmation of monarchy.

Nor is he right to suppose that titles as opposed to honours are increasingly shunned. Americans seem to value them, converting an office to a title, such as Sec- retary Christopher, and then cling on to them, so in retirement we have President Carter or Governor so and so. Courtesy titles are not being abandoned, as Sir Ludovic will know from amongst his neigh- bours in Wiltshire, and in the case of Michael Ancram, that is his courtesy title; his surname is Kerr.

So far as royal titles are concerned HM and HRH are widely used, even by the Sun, if not amongst Sir Ludovic and his republi- can friends.

If his ungracious little piece does reflect Sir Ludovic's thinking on his honour then it just goes to show that in stopping his knighthood Mrs Thatcher has once again been proved right.

Nigel M. Thomas

First Floor Chambers, 11 Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, London WC2