Queen's Trinity Cross medal scrapped... because it's 'too Christian'
A medal personally established by the Queen is being withdrawn after it was deemed offensive to Muslims and Hindus.
The honour - known as The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity - has been ruled unlawful and too Christian.
It has been awarded to 62 distinguished residents of the former colony of Trinidad and Tobago over more than 40 years, including cricketers Brian Lara and Garfield Sobers, novelist V.S. Naipaul and many diplomats and politicians.
Caribbean storm: The old Trinity Cross (left) is replaced with the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which has removed any Christian symbols
But groups representing the Caribbean islands' Muslim and Hindu communities - which account for around a third of their 1.3million-strong population - had argued that the words 'Trinity' and 'Cross' were 'overtly Christian'. They also said the use of a cross insignia was offensive.
Five British law lords, all members of the Privy Council, have ruled that the honour breached the right to equality and the right to freedom of conscience and belief.
The Council is an obscure body made up of senior politicians, bishops and peers.
They advise the monarch on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative and act as a final court of appeal for many former colonies.
In the judgment, Lord Hope of Craighead said that the Trinity Cross was 'perceived by Hindus and Muslims living in Trinidad and Tobago as an overtly Christian symbol both in name and substance' and as such breached the islands' constitution of 1976.
It will be replaced with the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago - a circular medal featuring a sun, stars, water and a map of the islands.
Lawyer Anand Ramlogan of Hindu association Maha Saba said of the decision: 'It's a vindication of the 40 years of disquiet and unease silently suffered by the Muslim and Hindu communities whose legitimate grievance with the Trinity Cross was flippantly dismissed by successive governments.'
The implications of the ruling are being studied by lawyers in the Cabinet Office, which oversees the honours system.
Hugh Peskett, editor-in-chief of Burke's Peerage and Gentry, warned that changing the names of titles to remove Christian references would destroy hundreds of years of history. 'Part of the significance of an honour is its antiquity,' he said.
The Queen is due to visit Trinidad and Tobago - which won independence in 1962 - in November for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting.