Is Jimmy Savile still a Sir and did he have his knighthood taken away?

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  • A new Netflix documentary has explored the shocking and disturbing scandal that arose after the DJ’s death. And many viewers want to know whether Jimmy Savile is still a Sir and what happened with his knighthood.

    2022 marks a decade since the harrowing stories and allegations against BBC broadcaster Jimmy Savile came to public attention. And 10 years on, new revelations of his profilic abuse and the circumstances around it are continuing to be explored and questioned.

    New limited series Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story landed on Netflix in April, offering it’s own in-depth investigation into the story. Whilst new BBC drama The Reckoning is expected to arrive later in 2022 – seeing actor Steve Coogan star as the disgraced DJ.

    Is Jimmy Savile still a Sir?

    No, technically Jimmy Savile is no longer a Sir. This is because Knighthoods are only considered a living honour and they cease to exist after the person’s death. It is for this reason that Jimmy Savile’s knighthood was not posthumously stripped.

    Following the multitude of sexual abuse allegations in 2012, then Prime Minister David Cameron raised the idea of Savile’s knighthood being removed. However, in October 2012, the Cabinet Office confirmed this could not occur – as “there isn’t an honour to revoke”.

    Jimmy Savile posing with his OBE at Buckingham Palace in 1972

    Jimmy Savile showing off his OBE after his investiture at Buckingham Palace on 21st March 1972. (Photo by Leslie Lee/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    The official Honours Forfeiture Committee shared that Savile would have had his Sir title rescinded when alive. So long as his crimes were tried in court and Jimmy subsequently convicted.

    “The Forfeiture Committee can confirm that had James Wilson Vincent Savile been convicted of the crimes of which he is accused, forfeiture proceedings would have commenced,” the Committee said.

    When was Jimmy Savile knighted?

    The broadcaster was made a Sir in 1990 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. The honour recognised his services to charity. Jimmy was also awarded an OBE in 1972. Making him an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

    1990 also marked the year that Pope John Paul II honoured Saville with a Papal knighthood. This is considered one of the highest honours a pope can bestow on a person. It made Jimmy a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great. With the initials KCSG appearing after his name.

    The Catholic Church in England and Wales asked the Holy See (the jurisidiction of the Pope) to strip Savile of the honour in 2012. This was again after hundreds of victims came forward with their stories of sexual assault by the star. However, Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s official spokesperson told BBC News at the time that – like the knighthood – the “the honour expires with the death of the individual.”

    He added that the Holy See “firmly condemns the horrible crimes of sexual abuse of minors.” And deemed the revelations about Savile “very grave”.

    When did Jimmy Savile die?

    Jimmy Savile died from pneumonia on 29 October 2011, aged 84. The former DJ was found dead at his flat in Roundhay Park, Leeds – two days before his 85th birthday. 

    Prior to his funeral, Jimmy’s closed gold coffin was put on display at the Queens Hotel in Leeds. So that the public could go and pay their respects. The set-up included two of his This is Your Life books, in addition to the last cigarette he smoked. Jimmy Savile’s funeral took place a fortnight later on 9 November 2011 at Leeds Cathedral.

    Royal Marines carrying Jimmy Savile's coffin at Leeds Cathedral in November 2011

    Jimmy Savile’s coffin carried by pall bearers from the Royal Marines after the funeral at Leeds Cathedral. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    The ex-entertainer is buried at the Woodlands Cemetery in Scarborough, North Yorkshire – where his grave remains today. Eight months after his funeral, a £4,000 headstone organised by the family was installed to further commemorate his resting place. However this was removed and destroyed with swift effect in 2012. After hundreds of sexual abuse allegations against the star came to light.

    In a statement at the time, the Savile family shared: “Members of the family of Sir Jimmy Savile have decided to remove his headstone from the grave in Scarborough. The family members are deeply aware of the impact that the stone remaining there could have on the dignity and sanctity of the cemetery.

    “Out of respect to public opinion, to those who are buried there, and to those who tend their graves and visit there, we have decided to remove it.”

     

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