And so the inevitable has happened.
The ex-RBS chief executive, formerly known as Sir Fred Goodwin, is now plain Mr Goodwin.
His honour was withdrawn yesterday following a dramatic turn of events that have seen him almost singularly blamed for creating the worst economic crisis for decades.
Goodwin's being stripped of his knighthood was not entirely unexpected. It's been in the offing for some time. It was discussed on Question Time a couple of weeks ago, with majority support for the annulment. And, while I don't wish to comment at any length about it, I was broadly supportive. Anyone who has received a knighthood for "services to banking" in spite of having brought his bank to the brink of collapse can only call himself "Sir" fraudulently. Fred Goodwin will be remembered for doing banking, and the country, a great dis-service.
Interestingly, he is only one of a handful who have been so dishonoured since Nicolae Ceaucescu in 1989. That itself is a statistic worth taking a moment to consider. I wonder who has been the source of the most human misery and unnecessary suffering: the Romanian dictator or the RBS chief?
No doubt this is a move that will prove popular with the public. I can not argue that it isn't welcome. But what it will not do is anything to restore the damaged economy, to ensure that RBS works in the interests of its current shareholders (the public) or to change the banking culture which allows excessive bonuses and rewards reckless risk-taking. It can not in itself restore confidence in the British banking system, which is so desperately in need of overdue reform. A lot of questions remain to be asked about the UK's financial industry - and necessary actions taken to ensure it behaves in a more responsible way.
As I write, there are surely hundreds of bloggers making the same points, only more eloquently. I will leave it to them to explore the scope for a new model for our financial services.
What I'm actually interested in discussing is the UK honours system. It was curious to observe that the justification for stripping Goodwin of his title was that he had "brought the honours system into disrepute". Now, Mr Goodwin is guilty of many things but that surely isn't one of them. The honours system is already completely disreputable - any "system" that would give a knighthood to Fred Goodwin in the first instance is highly questionable.
What exactly does our honours system do if not reinforce celebrity culture or reward the "good and the great"? Fred Goodwin is simply the tip of the iceberg. In the last few years we've had the likes of Jeffrey Archer, Brian Souter, Mark Thatcher and Victor Blank being honoured for their dubious "services". Not to forget "Sir" Mervyn King, who is arguably far more responsible than Fred Goodwin for the current recession. And then we have the likes of Carol Vorderman being given an MBE for "services to television" (i.e. doing her job of putting some vowels and consonants on a board and doing some - sometimes tricky - arithmetical calculations), the England cricket team picking up gongs for beating Australia (including Paul Collingwood who played one match and scored 10 runs), soap "stars" being recognised and TV presenters such as Lorraine Kelly also receiving awards for "services". I've nothing against these people, but they are basically being rewarded for doing what they already get paid a fair amount to do.
In a culture obsessed with celebrity, the honours system reinforces it. People who are famous for being famous (no matter how briefly) are preferred over lifelong excellence. I suspect any GB athlete who wins a gold medal in this year's Olympics will be up for at least an OBE come next January.
So what future can our honours system possibly have? Do we simply want one that reflects celebrity culture and reinforces the status of the self-righteous "great", or do we want one that recognises long-term achievement, people who go the extra mile rather than those who appear most often on our TV screens, those who contribute to society's well-being rather than those who engineer short-term financial booms? If Fred Goodwin's knighthood told us anything it's that the "system", or society, values those who can make the most money. And if Dame Brian Souter's honour said anything, it's that any type of transgression need not serve as an impediment if you're a millionaire who can afford to give a bit to charity for tax purposes.
And let's briefly consider what honours actually are - they bestow upon the "honoured" the rather dubious privilege of being an Officer or a Member of a historic society responsible for so much human suffering - the British Empire. Why anyone would wish to accept entry into an "Empire" that not only has ceased to exist in all but name but has such an unenviable history I don't know. Personally, I'd find the mere overtones of colonialism offputting.
The honours system is at best a relic of a bygone era that reinforces dated perceptions of achievement and Victorian attitudes towards philanthropy. The list of recently honoured in itself demonstrates that the system is unfit for purpose and a poor reflection of British society. What is needed is a new, forward thinking and modern awards system, created in 21st century Britain for 21st century Britain - the kind of thing you'd think the Liberal Democrats would be championing with gusto.