Lord Alton of Liverpool has been awarded the Hungarian Order Of Merit.
He received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary at a glittering ceremony at the Embassy of Hungary in London from His Excellency The Hungarian Ambassador to the Court of St James’ Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, on behalf of Mr János Áder, President of Hungary.
The award is in recognition of the supportive role he played during the UK’s festive week dedicated to St Thomas Becket hosted by the Embassy of Hungary in May 2016. It is also in recognition for Lord Alton’s championing of those who are persecuted for their religion or belief.
The investiture by Ambassador Szalay-Bobrovniczky was witnessed by members of both houses of parliament, Catholic and Anglican clergymen, dignitaries, friends, and family.
The Ambassador said that Lord Alton was instrumental in the creation of such a successful Becket Week that it “provided our nations with an important lesson: that it is not only common geopolitical interests that lay down the bed for two nations’ friendship, but also the spiritual principles on which the people of a country build their lives.
“Bringing a spiritual dimension to international diplomacy reminds us all that when nation speaks to nation, heart must also speak to heart.
“Becket week was not envisaged to glorify the past, but to remind Britons and Hungarians of the heroism of Thomas Becket and others in defending the freedoms we enjoy in society today,” reflected the ambassador. “Let us not forget that it is where heroes are not forgotten, that new hopes are born.”
He praised Lord Alton’s dedication and advocacy for the respect of human rights on behalf of the people of Burma, Tibet, Darfur and North Korea.
After thanking the Hungarian president and the ambassador for the honour Lord Alton reflected that “76 per cent of the world’s population, live in countries with high or very high levels of restrictions on freedom of religion or belief. The message and example of St Thomas Becket are still relevant some 800 years after his death.”
Lord Alton said that the honour was “great encouragement to do more”.
Picture: Lord Alton and Hungarian Ambassador Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.