The Right Honourable (The Rt Hon. or Rt Hon.) is an honorific style traditionally applied to certain persons and collective bodies in the United Kingdom, the British Empire, and the Commonwealth of Nations. The term is predominantly used today as a style associated with the holding of certain senior public offices in the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.
"Right" in this context is an adverb meaning "thoroughly" or "very".
The following persons are entitled to the style ex officio. The style is added to the name of the office, not the name of the person:
All other Lord Mayors are "The Right Worshipful"; other Lords Provost do not use an honorific. By the 1920s, a number of city mayors, including the Lord Mayor of Leeds, were unofficially using the prefix "The Right Honourable", and the matter was consequently raised in Parliament. The Lord Mayor of Bristol at present still uses the prefix "Right Honourable", without official sanction. The Chairman of the London County Council (LCC) was granted the style in 1935 as part of the celebrations of the silver jubilee of King George V. The chairman of the Greater London Council, the body that replaced the LCC in 1965, was similarly granted the prefix, but that body, and by extension the office of its chairman, was likewise abolished in 1986.
Privy Counsellors are appointed for life by the Monarch, on the advice of the prime minister. All members of the British Cabinet (technically a committee of the Privy Council) are appointed to the Privy Council, as are certain other senior ministers in the government, senior members of the Shadow Cabinet, and leaders of the major political parties. The Privy Council thus includes all current and former members of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, excepting those who have resigned from the Privy Council. The First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also so appointed, as is the leader of the largest opposition party in the Scottish Parliament.
In order to differentiate peers who are Privy Counsellors from those who are not, the suffix "PC" should be added after the name (according to Debrett's Peerage (2015)). This is not however considered correct by Who's Who (2002).
In the House of Commons, members are not permitted to address each other directly or name other members, but must instead address the Speaker and refer to each other indirectly by their job. A non-Privy Council member is thus "my hon. Friend (the member for Constituency)" if in the same party as the person speaking, and "the hon. Member/Gentleman/Lady (the member for Constituency)" otherwise. ("Honourable" is abbreviated as "hon." in Hansard.) "Honourable" becomes "right honourable" for those members entitled to this style, in particular Privy Councillors. Members with government or opposition jobs may be referred to as such, for example "my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer", "the right hon. Lady, the Leader of the Opposition", "his right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Department", "the Secretary of State" (where this is unambiguous, such as while asking questions of a minister), or "the Prime Minister". Other honorifics are used in addition for those members in relevant professions:
Provided they are Commonwealth citizens, foreign judges appointed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are entitled to the honorific as well, although the appellation may be ignored in the judge's home country.
In the United Kingdom, "The Right Honourable" is added as a prefix to the name of various collective entities such as:
See also the collective use of "Most Honourable", as in "The Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council" (the Privy Council).
In Canada, occupants of the most senior public offices are styled as "The Right Honourable" (Le très honorable in French). Formerly, this was by virtue of their appointment to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. However, Canadian appointments to the British Privy Council were ended by the government of Lester Pearson. Currently, individuals who hold, or have held, one of the following offices are awarded the style of Right Honourable for life:
The title is not to be confused with "His/Her Excellency", used by Governors-general during their term of office, or "The Honourable", used only while in office by Premiers, and provincial cabinet ministers, and for life by senators, and federal cabinet ministers.
The style may also be granted for life by the Governor-General to eminent Canadians who have not held any of the offices that would otherwise entitle them to the style. This has been done on two occasions: once to mark the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 1992, and again upon the retirement of longtime politician Herb Gray in 2002.
The following individuals have been granted the title as an honorific:
|Justin Trudeau||Ottawa, ON||Prime Minister||1971||2015|
|Stephen Harper||Toronto, ON||Former Prime Minister||1959||2006|
|Paul Martin||Windsor, ON||Former Prime Minister||1938||2003|
|Jean Chrétien||Shawinigan, QC||Former Prime Minister||1934||1993|
|Kim Campbell||Port Alberni, BC||Former Prime Minister||1947||1993|
|Brian Mulroney||Baie-Comeau, QC||Former Prime Minister||1939||1984|
|John Turner||United Kingdom||Former Prime Minister||1929||1984|
|Joe Clark||High River, AB||Former Prime Minister||1939||1979|
|Julie Payette||Montreal, QC||Governor-General||1963||2017|
|David Johnston||Sudbury, ON||Former Governor-General||1941||2010|
|Michaëlle Jean||Haiti||Former Governor-General||1957||2005|
|Adrienne Clarkson||Hong Kong||Former Governor-General||1939||1999|
|Ed Schreyer||Beausejour, MB||Former Governor-General||1935||1979|
|Richard Wagner||Montreal, QC||Chief Justice||1957||2017|
|Beverley McLachlin||Pincher Creek, AB||Former Chief Justice||1943||2000|
|Don Mazankowski||Viking, AB||Honorific||1935||1992|
Over the years, a number of prominent Canadians became members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and thus were entitled to use the style of Right Honourable, either because of their services in Britain (e.g. serving as envoys to London) or as members of the Imperial War Cabinet, or due to their prominence in the Canadian Cabinet. This included all but three of Canada's early Prime Ministers (Alexander Mackenzie, John Abbott, and Mackenzie Bowell) who governed before the title was used domestically. Abbot, Bowell, and Mackenzie are properly referred to simply as Honourable.
In her resignation honours, the former Prime Minister Helen Clark did not recommend the appointment of any new Privy Councillors, and at present Winston Peters is the sole Privy Councillor in the New Zealand parliament. Privy Councillors recently retired from parliament include Clark, the former Speaker of the House Jonathan Hunt, and the former prime minister Jenny Shipley. In 2009 it was announced that the new Prime Minister John Key had decided not to make any further recommendations to the Crown for appointments to the Privy Council.
In August 2010, the Queen of New Zealand announced that, with immediate effect, individuals who hold, and those persons who after the date of the signing of these rules are appointed to, the following offices are awarded the style The Right Honourable for life:
This change was made because the practice of appointing New Zealanders to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom had ceased. However, the change had little immediate effect, as all but two of the holders or living former holders of the offices granted the style had already been appointed to the Privy Council.
The living New Zealanders holding the style "The Right Honourable" as a result of membership of the Privy Council are:
The living New Zealanders holding the style "The Right Honourable" for life as a result of the 2010 changes are:
|Sir Anand Satyanand||Former Governor-General||2 August 2010|
|Sir John Key||Former Prime Minister|
|Sir Lockwood Smith||Former Speaker of the House of Representatives|
|Sir Jerry Mateparae||Former Governor-General||31 August 2011|
|David Carter||Former Speaker of the House of Representatives||1 February 2013|
|Dame Patsy Reddy||Governor-General||28 September 2016|
|Sir Bill English||Former Prime Minister||12 December 2016|
|Jacinda Ardern||Prime Minister||26 October 2017|
|Trevor Mallard||Speaker of the House of Representatives||7 November 2017|
|Dame Helen Winklemann||Chief Justice||14 March 2019|
Australians appointed to the UK Privy Council are entitled to be called The Right Honourable. Some premiers of the Australian colonies in the 19th century were appointed members of HM Privy Council and were thus entitled to be called The Right Honourable. After federation in 1901, the Governor-General, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Prime Minister and some other senior ministers held the title. Alfred Deakin declined appointment to the Privy Council and was the only prime minister without the title until Gough Whitlam in 1972. The practice was resumed by Malcolm Fraser in 1975, but Bob Hawke declined the appointment in 1983. The last Governor-General to be entitled to the style was Sir Ninian Stephen. The last active politician to be entitled to the style was Ian Sinclair, who retired in 1998. Appointment to the Australian equivalent of the Privy Council, the Federal Executive Council, does not entitle a person to the style.
Australians can continue to achieve the distinction of "The Right Honourable" for their work in or in connection with the UK. For example, in 2001, Sir Robert May was elevated to the UK peerage as Baron May of Oxford, which carries with it the style The Right Honourable.
The Lord Mayors of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane,Perth, Adelaide and Hobart are styled the Rt Hon. The style (which has no connection with the Privy Council) attaches to the title of Lord Mayor, not to their names, and is relinquished upon leaving office.
|Living Australians holding the title The Right Honourable||Reason||Formerly|
|Doug Anthony, AC, CH||Member of the Privy Council||Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia|
|Ian Sinclair, AC||Member of the Privy Council||Former Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives|
|Sir William Heseltine, GCB, GCVO, AC||Member of the Privy Council||Former Private Secretary to the Sovereign|
|Robert May, Baron May of Oxford, OM, AC||Life peer||Former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government|
|Trixie Gardner, Baroness Gardner of Parkes, AM, JP||Life peer||Former Councillor on the Westminster City Council|
|Malcolm Murray, 12th Earl of Dunmore||Earl of Dunmore||Former Member of the House of Lords|
|Robert Fiennes-Clinton, 19th Earl of Lincoln||Earl of Lincoln|
|Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun||Earl of Loudoun|
|George Dawson-Damer, 7th Earl of Portarlington||Earl of Portarlington|
|Keith Rous, 6th Earl of Stradbroke||Earl of Stradbroke|
|Francis Grosvenor, 8th Earl of Wilton||Earl of Wilton|
|Nicholas St John, 9th Viscount Bolingbroke, 10th Viscount St John||Viscount Bolingbroke|
|Charles Cavendish, 7th Baron Chesham||Baron Chesham|
|James Lindsay, 3rd Baron Lindsay of Birker||Baron Lindsay of Birker|
|David Campbell, 7th Baron Stratheden and Campbell||Baron Stratheden|
Members of the Privy Council of Ireland were entitled to be addressed as The Right Honourable, even after the Privy Council ceased to have any functions or to meet on the creation of the Irish Free State in December 1922. Nevertheless, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, like some of his counterparts in Great Britain, retained the use of the honorific style as a result of its having been conferred separately by legislation; in 2001 it was removed, as a consequence of local government law reform.
The second prime minister Raila Amolo Odinga (2008 – 2013) has been referred to as Rt. Honourable Raila Odinga.
In Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) the British practice was followed with Ceylonese members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom were styled The Right Honourable and were referred to as "Mahamanya" in Sinhalese. Ceylonese appointees to the privy council included D. S. Senanayake and Sir John Kotelawala.
... earls, viscounts, and barons are 'right honourable', ...
The style is also taken by Privy Counsellors, Peers below the rank of Marquess (which includes ladies who are Peers in their own right), the Lord Mayors of London and York and the Lord Provost of Edinburgh by ancient prescriptive usage.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)