The prefix The Honourable (or The Honorable in the United States and the Philippines), abbreviated to The Hon., Hon., or The Hon'ble, is an honorific style that is used before the names of certain classes of people.
In international diplomatic relations, representatives of foreign states are often addressed as "The Honourable". Deputy chiefs of mission, chargés d'affaires, consuls-general and consuls are always given the style. All heads of consular posts, whether they are honorary or career postholders, are accorded the title according to the State Department of the United States. However, the style "His/Her/Your Excellency" instead of "The Honourable" is used for ambassadors and high commissioners.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the prefix 'Honourable' or 'Hon.' is used for members of both chambers of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Informally, senators are sometimes given the higher title of 'Venerable'.
Recipients of the rank of Grand Officer or above of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean and persons knighted by Queen Elizabeth II are automatically entitled to prefix The Hon, Hons or The Honourable to their name. Commanders and Officers may request permission from the President to use this prefix. Recipients of the order who are not Mauritian citizens may not use the prefix or post-nominals unless granted permission by the President.
In Hong Kong, the prefix "The Honourable" is used for the following people:
In Macau, the prefix "The Honourable" is used occasionally for the following people:
A rough equivalent of "The Honourable" would be Hochwohlgeboren ("High Well-born"), which was used until 1918 for all members of properly noble families not having any higher style. Its application to bourgeois dignitaries became common in the 19th century, though it has faded since and was always of doubtful correctness.
A literal equivalent of "The Honourable", Ehrwürdig or Ehrwürden, is used for Catholic clergy and religious--with the exceptions of priests and abbesses, who are Hochwürden (Reverend). A subdeacon is "Very Honourable" (Wohlehrwürden); a deacon is "Right Honourable" (Hochehrwürden).
In Ireland, all judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are referred to as "The Honourable Mr/Ms Justice".
In Italy, the style "The Honourable" (Italian: Onorevole) is customarily used to refer to a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and to a member of the Sicilian Regional Assembly or to a member of the Rome City Council. Former MPs can maintain the style.
All members of the unicameral Parliament of Malta are entitled to this prefix.
An extensive system of honorifics used to be in place in the Netherlands. In a more formal setting it still is. A direct translation of "The Honorable": De weledele heer/vrouwe is used for well-to-do bourgeois men/women. Middle-class members are directed with De heer/mevrouw which is like Mr/Mrs in the anglophone world.
Typical is the use of De welededelgeboren heer/vrouwe (well-born Mr/Ms) for students at universities, traditionally children of the well-to-do bourgeoisie.
The system adds honorifics based on prestige for military officers based on rank, barristers, prosecutors, judges, members of parliament, government ministers, nobles, clergy, and for academic degrees of master's and above.
Under Dutch law Mr is a formal and academic title, for both men and women, protected by law. It means "Meester/Master", and is strictly reserved for holders of a master's degree in law (LL.M.), who are addressed as De weledelgestrenge heer/vrouwe Mr. name or "The honourable gentleman/lady Master" followed by their name.
In the Spanish Autonomous Community of Catalonia the word Honorable (Catalan: Honorable) is used for current and former members of the cabinet (consellers) of the President of the Catalan Government (Generalitat de Catalunya). Former and current Heads of Government or President of the Generalitat are given the name of Molt Honorable ("Very Honorable"). This also applies to former and current heads of government of the Autonomous Communities of Valencia and Balearic Islands.
In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons (including the holders of life peerages) and the younger sons of earls are styled with this prefix. (The daughters and younger sons of dukes and marquesses and the daughters of earls have the higher style of Lord or Lady before their first names, and the eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls are known by one of their father's or mother's subsidiary titles.) The style is only a courtesy, however, and on legal documents they may be described as, for instance, John Smith, Esq., commonly called The Honourable John Smith. As the wives of sons of peers share the styles of their husbands, the wives of the sons of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are styled, for example, The Hon. Mrs John Smith. Likewise, the married daughters of viscounts and barons, whose husbands hold no higher title or dignity, are styled, for example, The Hon. Mrs Smith.
The honourable is also customarily used as a form of address for most foreign nobility that is not formally recognised by the sovereign (e.g. ambassadors) when in the UK.
Some people are entitled to the prefix by virtue of their offices. Rules exist that allow certain individuals to keep the prefix The Honourable even after retirement.
Several corporate entities have been awarded the style by royal warrant, for example:
The style The Honourable is usually used in addressing envelopes (where it is usually abbreviated to The Hon.) and formally elsewhere, in which case Mr or Esquire are omitted. In speech, however, The Honourable John Smith is usually referred to simply as Mr John Smith.
In the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, as in other traditionally lower houses of Parliament and other legislatures, members must as a minimum refer to each other as the honourable member or my honourable friend out of courtesy, but they are not entitled to the style in writing. Until 2010 members who were 'senior' barristers could be called the honourable and learnèd member, serving or ex-serving members of the military the honourable and gallant member, and ordained clergy in the House the honourable and reverend member; this was abolished in 2010 following a recommendation of the Modernisation Committee. When anyone is entitled to the prefix The Right Honourable this is used instead of the honourable.
The Governor General may grant permission to retain the title after they cease to hold office. Persons eligible to retain the title include the Speaker of the House of Commons (who may already be eligible as a privy councillor), territorial commissioners, and judges of certain courts.
It is usual for speakers of the House of Commons to be made privy councillors, in which case they keep the style for life. Also, provincial premiers and federal opposition leaders are sometimes made privy councillors.
Members of the House of Commons of Canada and of provincial legislatures refer to each other during proceedings of the house with the courtesy title of "honourable member" (or l'honorable député), but their name is not otherwise prefixed with the Honourable (unless they are privy councillors).
Current and former governors general, prime ministers, chief justices and certain other eminent persons generally use the style the Right Honourable for life (or le/la très honorable in French). This was originally subject to being summoned to the British Privy Council. Several early prime ministers were not summoned to the British Privy Council, and hence were styled "The Honourable": Alexander Mackenzie, Sir John Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell.
In Barbados, members of the Parliament carry two main titles: members of the House of Assembly are styled "The Honourable", while members of the Senate are styled "Senator". Persons appointed to Her Majesty's Privy Council in London are styled "The Right Honourable". Persons accorded with the Order of Barbados are styled "Sir" (male), or "Dame" (female) as a Knight or Dame of St Andrew; or "The Honourable" as Companion of Honour. Persons made a National Hero of Barbados are styled "The Right Excellent".
In Puerto Rico, much like the continental United States, the term "Honorable" (in Spanish) is used, but not required by law, to address Puerto Rican governors as well as city mayors, members of state and municipal legislatures, judges and property registrars, as well as when formally addressing the President of the United States, of which Puerto Rico is a territory.
In the United States, the prefix the Honorable has been used to formally address various officials at the federal and state levels, but it is most commonly used for the President-elect, governors, judges, and members of Congress when formally addressing them. The title may be conferred pursuant to federal government service, according to federal rules, or by state government service, where the rules may be different. Modifiers such as the Right Honorable or the Most Honorable are not used. The "t" in "the" is not capitalized in the middle of a sentence.
Under the rules of etiquette, the President, Vice President, members of both houses of Congress, governors of states, members of state legislatures, and mayors are accorded the title. Persons appointed to office nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate are accorded the title; this rule includes members of the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet (such as deputies and undersecretaries), administrators, members, and commissioners of the various independent agencies, councils, commissions, and boards, federal judges, ambassadors of the United States, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Marshals, the Architect of the Capitol, the Librarian of Congress and Public Printer of the United States, and presidentially appointed inspectors general.
High state officials other than governor, such as lieutenant governor and state attorneys general are also accorded the title of "the Honorable." State court judges and justices of the peace, like federal judges, also are accorded "the Honorable" prefix. Practices vary on whether appointed state official, such as the heads of state Cabinet-level departments are given the title. In Rhode Island, Superior Court clerks are accorded "the Honorable". There is also no universal rule for whether county or city officials other than the mayor (such as city council, board of aldermen, board of selectmen, planning and zoning commission members, and code enforcement board members, or city manager or police chief or fire chief) are given the title; as these may be different state by state. Certain quasi-judicial positions in local government, such as the Board of Adjustment or Special Master who adjudicates code enforcement, may be referenced with "the Honorable" in front of their name, collective or individual.
Members of the White House staff at the rank of special assistant, deputy assistant, assistant to the president, and Counselor to the President are accorded the title. Officials nominated to high office but not yet confirmed (e.g., commissioner-designate) and interim or acting officials are generally not accorded the title "the Honorable", except for Cabinet-level officials.
Opinions vary on whether the term "the Honorable" is accorded for life. According to the protocols of the U.S. Department of State, all persons who have been in a position that entitled them to "The Honorable" continue to retain that honorific title for life. However, The State Department is not an authority on state and local officials such as mayors, members of state legislatures, and high state officials. The prefix is not used for people who have died.
Some estimate that in the United States there are nearly 100,000 people who are accorded the "Honorable" title, many in the Washington, D.C. region. Civilian officials, including service secretaries (e.g., Secretary of the Army) of the Pentagon receive the title, but military officers do not.
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, commissioned Kentucky colonels are considered honorary aides-de-camp to the Governor and members of his/her staff. As such, they are entitled to the style of Honorable as indicated on their commission certificates. The commission and letters patent granted by the governor and secretary of state bestowing the title of Kentucky colonel refers to the honoree as "Honorable First Name Last Name." However, this style is rarely used; most Kentucky colonels prefer to be referred to and addressed as colonel.
The style The Honorable is used on envelopes when referring to an individual in the third person. It is never properly used to refer to oneself, although Omarosa Manigault, an aide to the Trump White House, did so in a June 2017 letter to the Congressional Black Caucus.
A spouse of someone with the style of The Honorable receives no additional style.
In May 2013, the style was given approval by the Queen to be granted to past, present, and future Governors-General of Australia, to be used in the form "His/Her Excellency the Honourable" while holding office, and "the Honourable" in retirement.
By December 2014, the practice of appointing the vice-regal office holder, as well as former living, the style The Honourable for life had also been adopted for the state governors of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania (where it did not apply to past governors), as well as the Administrator of the Northern Territory.
In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth and state governments and the government of the Northern Territory are entitled to be styled the Honourable. The Australian Capital Territory does not have an executive council and so its ministers are not entitled to the style. In Victoria, the style is granted for life, so it is customary for former ministers to retain the title after leaving office. In New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania the premiers can advise the Queen of Australia to grant former ministers the style for life. In the Northern Territory, the chief minister can request the administrator to make a recommendation to the governor-general who in turn makes a recommendation to the Queen. A minimum five years' service as a member of the executive council and/or as a presiding officer is a prerequisite. In Western Australia, conditional on royal assent, the title may become permanent after three years' service in the ministry. All such awards are published in the Commonwealth Government Gazette. The presiding officers of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, the states and the Northern Territory are also styled the Honourable, but normally only during their tenure of office. Special permission is sometimes given for a former presiding officer to retain the style after leaving office, as is the case in the Northern Territory.
The style "Honourable" is not acquired through membership of either the House of Representatives or the Senate (see Parliament of Australia). A member or senator may have the style if they have acquired it separately, e.g. by being a current or former minister. During proceedings within the chambers, forms such as "the honourable Member for ...", "the honourable the Leader of the Opposition", or "My honourable colleague" are used. This is a parliamentary courtesy and does not imply any right to the style.
Traditionally, members of the legislative councils of the states have been styled the Honourable for the duration of their terms. That practice is still followed in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003. In New South Wales, Greens NSW members of the Legislative Council, who are eligible for the Honourable style, have refrained from using it, deeming it to be "outdated" and a "colonial trapping".
Judges of all superior courts are also referred to formally by the style the Honourable, both during and after holding the office.
The style "The Honourable" was first granted in 1854 for use by members of the Executive Council, the Speaker of the Legislative Council, the Members of the Legislative Council, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In addition to the standard Commonwealth usage, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was entitled to be referred to as The Honourable until 2010, when it was announced that sitting and future Governors-General, Prime Ministers, Chief Justices, and Speakers of the House of Representatives would be entitled to be referred to as The Right Honourable.
In July 2006 the Governor-General (and former living Governors-General) were granted the use of the style "The Honourable" until 2010 when the Governors-General was granted the title of "The Right Honourable" if they did not hold the title already or were a Privy Counsellor.
New Zealand office holders who are "The Honourable" ex-officio can be granted[by whom?] the style for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office; all honours and awards are published in The New Zealand Gazette.
In People's Republic of Bangladesh,House Speaker, Ministers, Members of parliaments and Mayors are entitled to the style "Honourable". On the other hand, the Prime Minister and the President are styled "The Honourable" or "His/Her Excellency".
In India, judges of the High Courts of India and Supreme Court of India are addressed as "Honourable" (Hon'ble); often stylized and abbreviated as "HMJ", i.e., Honourable Mr/Ms. Justice, followed by their name. Also the elected legislators and Heads of Government are formally called "Honourable" followed by their name.
In Pakistan, the judicial officers are addressed as honourable while presiding over in the courts of law. It is a norm to address judges of superior judiciary as honourable judges. Diplomats are addressed as Your Excellency. The head of state and Prime Minister is addressed her/his excellency.
UNESCO an agency of United Nations conferred Confucius Award, title of honourable upon a Pakistani educationist, Dr. Allah Bakhsh Malik in recognition of leadership role and meritorious services, for the promotion of education, adult literacy and vocational skill development. He is the only Pakistani conferred the honorific title of honourable by United Nations's UNESCO.
In Sri Lanka, the honorific "the Honourable" is used to refer to the Prime Minister, Ministers, and Members of Parliament. The honorific is usually used to address the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General as well as Judges of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Courts.
In Malaysia, an elected Member of Parliament or State Legislative Assemblyman will be entitled to be referred to as "Yang Berhormat", which is literally "The Honourable".
In the Philippines, the style is usually used to give distinction to any elected official (whether in office or retired) ranging from the smallest political unit, the barangay, to the Congress of the Philippines, which consists of the Senate and House of Representatives. Appointed officials such as members of the Cabinet (secretaries, acting secretaries, ad interim secretaries, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries), the Solicitor General, and heads of government agencies at the national and local levels are also accorded this style. For example, a kagawad (barangay or village council member) named Juan de la Cruz will be referred to as The Honorable Juan de la Cruz. In written form, the style may be shortened to "Hon." (e.g. Hon. Juan de la Cruz).
The Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and Trial Court Judges are also addressed in this style. Meanwhile, the President and Vice-President of the Philippines is always given the style His/Her Excellency.
The Chief Justice, Judges of Appeal, and Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Presiding Judge and District Judges of the State Courts are conventionally addressed in formal settings using the honorific "The Honourable".
The use of the honorific "The Honourable" to refer to the Prime Minister, Ministers, and Members of Parliament is not required by the Standing Orders of Parliament, but during a 1988 parliamentary debate the Leader of the House, Wong Kan Seng, said it would be polite for MPs to refer to their colleagues using the terms "Mr.", "Honourable Mr." or "Honourable Minister" depending on their choice.
Private, non-profit, and non-governmental (NGO) organisations, and religious movements sometimes style a leader or founder as The Honourable, e.g. "The Honourable Elijah Muhammad", often abbreviated to "The Hon." or simply "Hon.".