Baroness Floella Benjamin becomes first Caribbean woman to receive the Order of Merit

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Baroness Floella Benjamin has become first Caribbean woman to receive one of the United Kingdom's highest accolades, the Order of Merit.

The former politician and broadcaster was presented with the honour by King Charles during a special lunch at Buckingham Palace today.

Baroness Benjamin has dedicated much of her career to campaigning and supports charities including Barnardo’s, Sickle Cell Society and Beating Bowel Cancer.

It was the first meeting of the group, which many refer as the 'most exclusive club' since Charles became King.

Baroness Benjamin was among four new members who were selected by the Queen as one of her final acts before her death.

Baroness Benjamin said "I am thrilled to be a part of this group. I would have loved for my mum and dad to be here today to just see the fruits of their labour and to celebrate with me.

"I am one of the first black women to be in the Order of Merit, the first Trinidadian and first Caribbean women, the first Windrush generation to be included and it is absolutely incredible."

What is an Order of Merit?

  • The award recognises distinguished service towards the advancement of the arts, learning, literature or science

  • There can only be 24 members within the Order of Merit group at one time with some additional foreign members

  • There are a very small group of people who are honorary members of the award

  • The award was founded by King Edward VII in 1902