Following up on the silly idea being floated in the Murdoch press that John Howard might be made a Knight of the Garter (surely Alexander Downer would be a more appropriate choice!), I discovered the interesting fact that Ninian Stephen is a knight five times over (KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE).
Fine judge and Governor-General as Ninian Stephen was, I find this a bit excessive, and something of a reductio ad absurdam on the whole business of knighthoods.
fn1 For those who don’t recall, AK was Malcolm Fraser’s shortlived notion of adding knighthoods to the Order of Australia, and the rest are British honours – he got the KBE in 1970, three more on becoming GG and the Garter in 1994. My guess is that, if he hadn’t had already had the handle “Sir Ninian”, the other awards would have been more controversial, and might not have happened.
fn2 I should note that academics like myself are not exactly innocent here, and some even string together multiple titles, particularly in Europe.