Sir Keir Starmer Became the First Knight to Serve as British Prime Minister in 61 Years

"My government will fight every day until you believe again."


Jul. 5 2024, Published 12:18 p.m. ET

: Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech and takes media questions while visiting Norton Cannes Community Centre on July 2, 2024 in Norton Canes, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Source: Getty Images

Four years after having become the leader of Britain's Labour Party in 2020, Sir Keir Starmer made his way to 10 Downing Street on July 5, 2024, as the country's new elected prime minster, promising to "deliver change." Following 14 years of Conservative leadership in Britian, Starmer said in a speech that the country was in need of a "bigger reset" and "a rediscovery of who we are."

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A former prosecutor and human rights lawyer, Starmer is also the first knight of the realm to become PM since Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963.

For folks unfamiliar with the honors system in the U.K., there may be some confusion as to why and how Starmer became a "sir." We break it down below.

 Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer walks with his wife Victoria Starmer, as they arrive at a polling station to place their votes in the 2024 General Election on July 04, 2024 in London, England
Source: Getty Images

Keir Starmer and wife Victoria Starmer on July 4, 2024

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Why is Keir Starmer a sir?

Before he got into politics, human rights lawyer Starmer became Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions back in 2008. This title usually comes with knighthood, and Starmer was no exception.

Accordingly, Starmer was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 2014, for his services in law and criminal justice.

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Per, the Order of Bath — which "recognizes the work of senior military officials and civil servants" — comes from a medieval custom in which "soldiers were prepared to receive their knighthood by a ritualized process of washing, which symbolized spiritual purification." It was founded in 1725 by George I, and it wasn't until 1971 that it became open to women.

Sir Keir Starmer said the U.K. would "get its future back."

The first center-left party leader to lead Britain since Tony Blair, Starmer — who defeated Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak — said in a speech on July 5:

"My government will fight every day until you believe again. From now on, you have a government unburdened by doctrine, guided only by the determination to serve your interest. To defy those quietly who have written our country off." He added, "You have given us a clear mandate, And we will use it to deliver change."

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Amid a time of upheaval in the country, with its cost-of-living crisis, immigration debate, and chaos in the NHS, Starmer said that the Britain's "task is nothing less than renewing the ideas that hold this country together, national renewal."

"Whoever you are, wherever you started in life, if you work hard, if you play by the rules, this country should give you a fair chance to get on," he said, adding: "Make no mistake, that is the great test of politics in this era. The fight for trust is the battle that defines our age. It is why we’ve campaigned so hard on demonstrating we are fit for public service."

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