Tony Blair to be given most senior knighthood in new year honours list

The former prime minister will be made Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by the Queen.

Tony Blair will be knighted with the highest possible ranking in the new year honours list, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The appointment, which is made by the Queen, has regularly been bestowed upon past prime ministers, with Sir John Major – Blair’s direct predecessor – the last to receive the honour.

Blair, who was the prime minister between 1997 and 2007, will be appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry.

Blair, a former Labour leader said that it was an immense honour to be appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

" I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen.

“It was a great privilege to serve as prime minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.”

Blair led New Labour to a landslide victory in 1997, winning two subsequent general elections before quitting Westminster 10 years later.

Blair, 68, a former barrister, became a Middle East envoy and set up his own non-profit organisation, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, after leaving politics.

Appointments to the Garter are in the Queen’s gift and made without prime ministerial advice. They are for life unless a knight or lady companion offends against certain “points of reproach”.

Founded in 1348 by Edward III, the garter is awarded by the sovereign for outstanding public service and achievement. It is said to have been inspired by events at a ball in northern France, attended by the king and Joan, Countess of Salisbury. The countess is believed to have dropped her garter, causing laughter and some embarrassment.

The king, however, picked it up and wore it on his own leg, uttering the phrase “Honi soit qui mal y pense” – “Shame on him who thinks this evil” – now the order’s motto.

There are now 21 non-royal companions in the order out of a maximum of 24.