While the U.S. government has barely enacted any punishment on the heads of the financial services companies that helped fuel the 2008 collapse of the economy, a very different approach has been taken across the Atlantic.
BBC News reports that Queen Elizabeth II took an unprecedented step in rescinding the knighthood granted in 2004 to Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Goodwin's role in RBS' near-collapse in 2008 has been the subject of intense criticism, with British taxpayers paying approximately $71 billion to bail out the bank.
‘Fred Goodwin was the dominant decision-maker at RBS at the time,’ says a government spokesperson. ‘In reaching this decision, it was recognized that widespread concern about Fred Goodwin's decisions meant that the retention of a knighthood for 'services to banking' could not be sustained.’
A withdrawal of knighthood is very rare and has primarily been enacted against people who were convicted of crimes or forced to resign under scandal; Goodwin resigned one month before the news of RBS' financial meltdown was made public. The British government's forfeiture committee recommended the removal of Goodwin's title, although the queen had the final authority to determine whether Goodwin's knighthood should be voided.