Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So Many Errors: Offender of the Summer

A loyal reader came across this photo of Roy H. Vickers, CM, OBC, displayed on the front of a magazine. Mr. Vickers is a well regarded artist and motivational speaker. We can only hope that he does not wear his medals frequently. It is also our sincere hope that in speaking motivationally he does not delve into the topic of wearing medals.

So what all is wrong with our Offender of the Summer as shown on the right? We will not pass judgement on his lack of a neck or bow tie.

Mr. Hugo Vickers (aka Mr. Wrong)

Around his neck, where he should be wearing his full size Order of British Columbia, we see Mr. Vickers wearing some sort of amulet? Perhaps he has been watching too many Dracula movies.

When dressing as Count Dracula,
avec amulet/neck doodad,
you do not wear full or miniature
size medals on the breast.

When wearing medals gentlemen should refrain from wearing amulets or necklaces -- this is a rule that will serve any man well, regardless of whether or not he is wearing medals. If you happen to be Dracula or a member of his clan you are exempted from this rule thanks to Hollywood custom. 

Placing the lack of a neck or bow tie and presence of the amulet/neck doodad to the side, we pass to Mr. Vickers' group. He seems to be following the mix-and-match method of medal wear. The Member of the Order of Canada insignia is being worn correctly, then we have a miniature Order of British Columbia, for which there is NEVER an occasion to wear when also wearing your full size insignia Member of the Order of Canada insignia or full size medals. This is followed by a blue and white ribbon, which looks very much like the ribbon from the Egypt Medal (1882-1889), a medal awarded to just under 400 Canadians who served as boatmen on the Nile in the 1880s. Perhaps Mr. Vickers is wearing this in honour of some long departed relative who served on the Nile. Needless to say, this blue and white ribbon needs to be removed. The Egypt Medal ribbon is followed by his Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in full size form, which is correct. 

Mr. Vickers, given that you received a Diamond Jubilee Medal last year, we here at Wearing Your Medals Wrong strongly suggest that you have your medals properly mounted. Your full size group (for wear during the day) should display as follows:-  Member of the Order of Canada, Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal, with your Order of British Columbia worn around the neck (in place of the amulet thing you have on in the photo presented here). For your miniature group (for wear in the evening) you will have to purchase these yourself, other than the miniature OBC which you already have, and your mini group should display:- Member of the Order of Canada, Order of British Columbia, Golden Jubilee Medal, Diamond Jubilee Medal, and you should wear your full size OBC around your neck on a miniature ribbon. Any military tailor will be able to assist you in correcting your medals faux pas. We are a forgiving lot here at Wearing Your Medals Wrong and would take great pleasure in adding an entry about how you have reformed. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Health Advisory: Instant Dictator Syndrome

Have you ever wondered what Instant Dictator Syndrome looks like? The symptoms are overt and horrible. 
Not even Emperor Bokassa could out do these North Korean Generals.
Thirty-Six breast stars is a bit much. 
Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic was much more modest,
only eleven breast stars. 
In Canada thankfully there are only a few people who suffer from the most acute form of this ailment. Nevertheless we must remain vigilant against the spread of this problem, the pathology of which begins with the wearing of one medal wrong, then two, and suddenly the afflicted patient is wearing multiple neck orders in a business suit, or worse yet, unrecognized orders, decorations and medals alongside those officially granted and approved national/provincial honours and foreign honours that have been approved by the Government of Canada.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Miniature Royal Error

Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence (back row),
not a miniatures occasion. 
Here is Sir Timothy wearing his medals correctly. 
Yes, even members of the Royal Family occasionally make errors when it comes to wearing their orders, decorations and medals. Above we have a photo of HRH The Princess Royal's husband, Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, KCVO, CB, ADC wearing miniatures on the RN Naval Ceremonial Day Coat (aka Flag Officer's Frock Coat). To be fair RN Dress Regs, do not cover this order of dress in detail, no doubt because its wear is limited to members of the Royal Family, Admirals of the Fleet, Second Sea Lord, full Admirals and the Defense Services Secretary (when an RN Officer), so the pool of eligible candidates is small. Given that it is specifically listed as a Naval Ceremonial DAY Coat, it should be obvious that only full size insignia should be worn. Spink's Guide to the Wearing of Orders, Decorations and Medals covers this topic and there is no provision for the wearing of miniature insignia on the Naval Ceremonial Day Coat. Everyone else in the photo is property turned out. One cannot imagine that HRH was terribly impressed with her husband on this occasion! There are many photos of Sir Timothy wearing his medals correctly, so one must assume this was just a wardrobe malfunction. It is also nice to see some RCN representation in the photo above! The RCN Petty Officer 1st Class is wearing his medals correctly.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A New National Wearing Guide!

The Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall has recently issued a very helpful and well written publication on how to wear orders, decorations and medals correctly and in accordance with the rules set out by the Government of Canada. Wearing Orders, Decorations and Medals provides useful photos covering a variety of dress modes and officially sanctioned methods for wearing honours in Canada.
Cover of the new guide

The guide  provides explicit instruction on how to wear your medals and the Governor General's website continues to state some of the cardinal rules of who can wear what:

-Only the actual recipient of an honour can wear its insignia.

-No family member or any person other than the original recipient may wear the insignia of an order, decoration or medal, even posthumously.

-Insignia that are purchased or otherwise acquired may be used for display purposes only and cannot be worn on the person any any form or manner.

-The insignia of orders, decorations and medals not listed in the Order of Precedence, as well as foreign awards, an award of which has not been approved by the Government of Canada, shall not be mounted or worn in conjunction with orders, decorations and medals listed in the Order of Precedence. 

You can access the Order of Precedence by clicking on the link above or HERE. The Order of Precedence has been updated to include the addition of the Diamond Jubilee Medal. Notably absent from the list of approved honours are a host of as yet un-authorized and un-recognized provincial long service medals that have been popping up across Canada -- a topic for future discussion. 

Despite this excellent book there continues to be a host of familiar and new offenders, sadly even amongst those occupying some of the most senior officers in the land. With the conclusion of the school year, the long overdue Vice-Regal Report Card will soon be out.