Richard Charkin, OBE: Listed in the King’s Birthday Honors

In News, Opinion & Commentary by Richard Charkin7 Comments

The King’s Birthday Honors include a membership in the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for publisher-columnist Richard Charkin.

Richard Charkin

Editor’s note: Our congratulations to Publishing Perspectives columnist Richard Charkin, who on June 15 was made a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of King Charles III’s Birthday Honors. Charkin is on the list with actress Imelda Staunton, Duran Duran’s lead singer Simon Le Bon, literary agent Jenny Brown, the former CILIP CEO Nicholas Poole, author Monica Ali, and many others. Charkin is recognized for his work as ‘lately president [of the] International Publishers Association, [and] services to publishing and literature.’ We asked him to write about being made one of the British crown’s honorees. —Porter Anderson

By Richard Charkin | @RCharkin

‘I Had To Keep Shtum Until Saturday’
On May 23, I received an email out of the blue from the United Kingdom’s Cabinet Office from the Ceremonial Officer asking me whether I’d be agreeable to my name going forward to His Majesty the King for his approval of an Order of the British Empire for my services to the publishing industry.

Of course, my first reaction was that it was a scam, or more likely some publishing prankster having fun at my expense. Clearly others had the same reaction, as there’s a note about how to establish the authenticity of the correspondence on a government site. It appeared to be the real thing. Would I be agreeable? Sure thing.

I remember my old boss Paul Hamlyn once turning down an honor like this because (a) it came from Mrs. Thatcher’s Tory government, of which he vehemently disapproved, and (b) because he wanted something bigger and better. He was eventually made a lord. My sights aren’t aimed that high.

The next obstacle was filling out the “diversity monitoring survey.” I never know what to tick on these surveys. I suppose they need to reflect society’s diversity and need to show the results of their efforts. On the face of it, I don’t help their statistics, being white, male, old and, I suppose, privileged. But at least I’m Jewish and my grandparents were immigrants.

From that point on, I had to keep shtum until Saturday (June 15). Not easy, but I managed. My discretion was particularly challenged last week when I was in South Africa being plied with the most wonderful wines in the best company possible.

‘Absolutely Delighted To Have Been Recognized’

I have no idea how the system works.

Once I was asked by a senior journalist to inform him of deserving publishers, as he sat on a sort of secret nominating committee. I imagine that one of trade bodies on which I’ve served may have nominated me. Whoever or whatever it was, I’m grateful to them.

I’m unclear what are the privileges of appending “Order of the British Empire” to my name, rather unfashionable in post-colonial times. I’m not even sure in what circumstances it would be appropriate.

But for inexplicable human reasons, I’m absolutely delighted to have been recognized by a country which, despite recent shenanigans, I admire and respect. So thank you, Your Majesty.

In due course, I’ll be invited to a formal bestowal, or whatever the correct term is, by a member of the royal family at Buckingham Palace. Apparently it’s normal to wear a tie.

There are some who think that the king must have remembered me from our days as undergraduates at Trinity College Cambridge. That he remembers is highly unlikely but here’s a photo of us, plus quite a few others. I doubt he has it pinned to his wall.

Then-Prince Charles, Richard Charkin, and colleagues at Trinity College Cambridge, March 11, 1969. Image: Provided by Richard Charkin

Join us monthly for Richard Charkin’s latest column. More coverage of his work from Publishing Perspectives is here. Richard Charkin’s opinions are his own, of course, and not necessarily reflective of those of Publishing Perspectives. 

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Richard Charkin

Richard Charkin is a former president of the International Publishers Association and the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association. For 11 years, he was executive director of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. He has held many senior posts at major publishing houses, including Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Current Science Group, and Reed Elsevier. He is a former president of the Book Society and non-executive director of the Institute of Physics Publishing. He is currently a board member of Bloomsbury China’s Beijing joint venture with China Youth Press, a member of the international advisory board of Frankfurter Buchmesse, and is a senior adviser to and Shimmr AI. He is a non-executive director of Liverpool University Press, and Cricket Properties Ltd., and has founded his own business, Mensch Publishing. He lectures on the publishing courses at London College of Communications, City University, and University College London. Charkin has an MA in natural sciences from Trinity College, Cambridge; was a supernumerary fellow of Green College, Oxford; attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School; and is a visiting professor at the University of the Arts London. He is the author, with Tom Campbell, of ‘My Back Pages; An Undeniably Personal History of Publishing 1972-2022.’ In the June 2024 King's Birthday Honors, Charkin was made a member of the Order of the British Empire, OBE, for his "services to publishing and literature."


  1. First it was Susie Dent, heard that day on the news. Now Richard. I now know 3 people with an OBE, Lynette Owen, Susie, and now Richard. Well done, o great one!


  2. Congratulations on your award Richard, kind regards Christine Hanson

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