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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

OFFENDER OF THE MONTH: General Rick Hillier

General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier, OC, OMM, ONL, MSC, CD

Unfortunately our former Chief of the Defence Staff, a well respected and appropriately recognized retired soldier, has succumbed to the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The blog email box has been flooded over the past two months with emails about Canada's former top solider dawning three neck insignia simultaneously, while in civilian attire. 

With all due respect General, you don't need to do this. Your group of miniature medals more than adequately reflects your service to Canada, and one neck insignia is always enough when it comes to wearing mess dress or civilian clothing. 

One neck gong is enough Sir...

Even the precedence for his OC, CMM and ONL is wrong, and in Black Tie/Dinner Jacket the neck insignia is to be worn from miniature width ribbon. If you want to look like a Soviet olympian then I suppose this is the path to follow. Let us hope that one of General Hillier's colleagues will eventually point out that he is out of dress and looks rather desperate to impress with three neck insignia. 

Major-General George Pearkes.
Paragon of propriety and correct civilian deportment.

As noted in our post of October 9, 2010, if the VC winning Major General George R. Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, MC, CD, (also a Knight of the Order of Saint John and a Commander of the US Legion of Merit) who was entitled to four neck decorations, could get by with wearing one neck gong at a time while in civilian attire, why can't others?


  1. His other fashion faux pas extend to wearing a notched lapel dinner jacket, a lapel pin, and having the band of his tie riding up over his collar. You can't tell his waist covering, but a turn down collar should really be worn if he is wearing a cummerbund.

  2. This is nice post which I was waiting for such an article and I have gained some useful information from this site.Thanks for sharing this information.
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  3. Just to be clear, I have nothing against lapel pins per se, they just have no place on a dinner jacket. Quite gauche.

  4. I was at a Government House, Victoria, event recently to welcome Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex to BC. I was amazed by the number of attendees wearing miniatures before 6pm, including some Order of Canada recipients!

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