Financial crime is not only bad for your sense of honour – it is bad for your honours. American financier Allen Stanford, you will recall, was sentenced to 110 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme so massive and devastating for its victims that New York Times journalist Peter Henning called it “economic homicide”. And I remember – so shoot me – feeling a distinct shiver of Schadenfreude when it was announced in October 2009 that the National Honours Committee of Antigua and Barbuda had voted unanimously to strip Stanford of the knighthood that they had conferred on him only three years earlier for his service to their island nation (thus making him the second most famous “Srallen” in the world). Perhaps fittingly, the gong was actually removed on 1 April 2010.
And sometimes the fall from grace – all too literally in our next example – comes before any conviction. On 12 June 2015, fervently Royalist Hello! magazine confirmed that Spain’s King Felipe had issued a decree stripping his sister Infanta Cristina of her title as Duchess of Palma, thanks to her dragging the family’s name through the mud via an investigation into her tax affairs and those of her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, who is suspected of corruption. The princess was already being edged out, as she did not attend her brother’s coronation in June 2014 – so doubtless this will make for some very awkward Christmas dinners. And earlier this year, as investigations continued, Infanta Cristina was stripped by councillors in Barcelona of the city’s Gold Medal – its top honour, bestowed on her in 1997 when she lived there. Deputy Mayor Gerado Pisarello expressed his surprise that the princess had not voluntarily returned the medal, saying that “no merit exists by which the princess could be deserving of this honour”. She can no longer use the title “her most excellent lady”, which comes with the award. Mind you, she’s still got plenty of names left: her official style and title is Su Alteza Real Doña Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia de la Santísima Trinidad de Borbón y Grecia, Infanta de España (Her Royal Highness Doña Cristina Federica Victoria Antonia of the Holy Trinity of Bourbon and Greece, Princess of Spain).