A petition demanding the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair be stripped of his knighthood is fast approaching 500,000 signatures as anger grows amongst anti-war campaigners and the wider public.
Blair, or as he will now be referred to in the UK, Sir Tony, was awarded the 'Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter’, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.
It hasn't taken long for widespread opposition to mount against Blair's award by Queen Elizabeth, the country's monarch and head of state.
"Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society," says the petition seeking a reversal of Blair's knighthood.
The petition states that Blair was "personally responsible" for the deaths of countless innocent lives and that he should be held accountable for "war crimes".
"Tony Blair is the least deserving person of any public honour, particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen," the petition concluded.
The Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter is one of the oldest and most senior orders of knighthood in the British honours system. Established in the 14th century, the Queen gives it exclusively as a personal gift, and the membership is capped at 24 people.
A leader in the country's anti-war coalition, Lindsey German, said she was "amazed" that Blair had been given the award.
"I think it's a kick in the teeth for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and a kick in the teeth for all the people who protested against the war in Iraq and who have been proved right," said German.
As one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, Blair is widely blamed not just for the horrific death toll the war had on Iraqis — estimated at least 460,000 deaths, with some estimates putting the number as high as one million — but also how the war was sold to the British public and internationally.
Before the 2003 war against Iraq, Blair argued that the country's leader Saddam Hussein – was on the cusp of attaining weapons of mass destruction, claims that never materialised – and which were later proved to be unequivocally false.
An official investigation later found the “intelligence had not established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons."
What's the public saying?
No British political figure is arguably as polarising as Tony Blair.
One online critic said that "Tony Blair got awarded a knighthood for killing one million innocent civilians."
Whereas another person called the decision by the Queen a "joke."
Some went further, arguing that the British establishment always protects and rewards one of their own.
"The British empire has always honoured its best killers with knighthoods, road names, statues…Tony Blair is not an aberration," said one political activist.
The anti-apartheid hero archbishop Desmond Tutu who recently passed away, was even more scathing.
In an opinion piece almost a decade ago, he wrote, "the immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history."
Yet while he has been held generally held in contempt in the public realm, Blair has raked in tens of millions of dollars mingling with some of the world's more corrupt and despotic regimes.
If Tony Blair was worried that his post-prime ministerial career would shudder to a halt given the hate he inspired, he didn't show it.
His first major contract was with the US banking giant JP Morgan, who gave him a five-year contract of $4 million per year.
Tony Blair was also appointed as a Middle East Peace Envoy, at a cost of more than $13 million, a role he held between 2007 and 2015.
For many, that the man who had helped trigger so much war and destruction in the Middle East should be appointed to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, smacked as a cruel joke for those living in the region.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tony Blair resigned in 2015, not having brought peace to the Middle East.
However, by this time, Blair had brought a measure of peace and prosperity for his family, amassing a string of houses in central London worth millions of dollars. His net worth is estimated to be around $60 million.
As revelations of Blair's dealings with the super-rich and authoritarian regimes have periodically trickled into the press, his stature has fallen in equal measure with one British paper calling the former prime minister a "political embarrassment".
Subscribe to our Youtube channel for all latest in-depth, on the ground reporting from around the world.
Copyright © 2022 TRT World.
Copyright © 2022 TRT World.