On Mainland Orkney stands the Kitchener Memorial.
Have you noticed the three sheep making use of its shadow?
Horatio Herbert Kitchener died with 736 other men when the HMS Hampshire hit a mine in 1916. Until 2016 the names of the other 736 people who died were not on the memorial and it was dedicated to him alone. His loss was so great in popular opinion at the time that one man in Yorkshire completed suicide and George Frederick Ernest Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, commonly known as King George V said his death was “a far worse blow than many German victories.” That’s a bit rich coming from him, since the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is a German dynasty. Sensibly Saxe-Coburg-Gotha changed his name to one of his castles, Windsor.
Lord Kitchener and his catchphrase are still familiar to many.
His image was so familiar that his name wasn’t even necessary. A picture sufficed to tell the majority of British people who wanted them. It’s still a powerful message in popular culture. Think In The Navy by Village People and their phrase “I want you as a new recruit”. He looks like he could have made a good member of the Village People, doesn’t he?
His Excellency Field Marshal The Right Honourable Horatio Herbert Kitchener, was known as the 1st Earl Kitchener. He had the awards of KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, and PC.
Here’s what they all mean.
KG: The Most Noble Order of the Garter, an order of chivalry founded by Edward III of England in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system, outranked only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross.
KP: The Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, a dormant British order of chivalry associated with Ireland. The Order was created in 1783 by George III at the request of the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the 3rd Earl Temple (later created Marquess of Buckingham).
GCB: The Order of the Bath (formally the Most Honourable Order of the Bath), a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name comes from the elaborate medieval ceremony for appointing a knight, which involved bathing (as a symbol of purification).
OM: The Order of Merit, a Commonwealth order of merit recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign (currently Edward VII’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, popularly known as Queen Elizabeth II) and is restricted to a maximum of 24 living recipients from the Commonwealth realms, plus a limited number of honorary members.
GCSI: The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria in 1861.
GCMG: The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later King George IV.
GCIE: The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, an order of chivalry founded by Queen Victoria on 1 January 1878.
PC: The Privy Council of the United Kingdom, a formal body of advisers to the sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. The Privy Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the royal prerogative, and as a body corporate (as Queen-in-Council) it issues executive instruments known as Orders in Council, which among other powers enact Acts of Parliament. The Council also holds the delegated authority to issue Orders of Council, mostly used to regulate certain public institutions. The Council advises the sovereign on the issuing of Royal Charters, which are used to grant special status to incorporated bodies, and city or borough status to local authorities. Otherwise, the Privy Council’s powers have now been largely replaced by its executive committee, the Cabinet of the United Kingdom.
Despite the honours poured on him, he was a persistent sex offender who would enter the sleeping areas of servants in whichever house he stayed, whether male or female, and sexually assault them. According to historian AN Wilson, “When the great field marshal stayed in aristocratic houses, the well informed young would ask servants to sleep across their bedroom threshold to impede his entrance”. Apparently, “His compulsive objective was sodomy, regardless of their gender.”
It’s clear what Kitchener wanted his new recruits for.