GREAT BRITAIN: His Majesty's Loyal Opposition

Britain's highest distinction short of a knighthood is the Order of Merit (O.M.). Only 24 living persons may hold it. A reward for exceptional services in the arts, literature & science, its holders include Poet T. S. Eliot, Painter Augustus John, Composer Vaughan Williams, and one honorary member—Dwight Eisenhower.

Lately, the O.M. has served a new purpose: to reward outgoing Prime Ministers who don't want a peerage which would raise them to the lofty but ineffectual House of Lords. Winston Churchill got his O.M. following his party's defeat at the polls in 1945. Last week, in recognition of eleven years...

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