Boris Johnson’s former parliamentary private secretary said it was David Cameron who first suggested he might be knighted before “that was upgraded later to a KCMG, which I’m sure Boris had something to do with”.
Conservative former minister Sir James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, received the honour of the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for “political and public service” at a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony on Tuesday.
The King approved the honour in October 2022, after it was recommended further to advice from Mr Johnson.
The former prime minister has faced criticism for reportedly including his father Stanley among one of as many as 100 names put forward in his resignations honours list.
Mr Johnson, who was forced out of Downing Street last September following a series of scandals, previously faced accusations of cronyism in 2020, after he nominated his brother Jo Johnson for a peerage.
Asked if he received the honour in return for loyalty to Mr Johnson, Sir James told the PA news agency: “So on the record I could say, I knew David Cameron suggested I might at some point get a knighthood for political services and that was obviously upgraded later to a KCMG, which I’m sure Boris had something to do with – probably not coincidence, I’ve been helpful to him as well as helpful to the foreign service.
“Indeed he’d served as a chief diplomat as Foreign Secretary.”
Quizzed on criticism of Mr Johnson for giving his allies honours, Sir James said: “In my eyes Boris Johnson can do no wrong.”
But he refused to be drawn further as royal protocol is for investitures to be apolitical events.
The former trade minister also told PA: “The whole thing is totally boggling really, because you worry about getting here on time and making sure you don’t trip over and do all the obvious things wrong but actually when the sword goes onto your shoulder you do realise how special it is, particularly receiving a knighthood and a KCMG at that.
“To be here is special for anybody but then to be the first person through and to have the Prince of Wales doing one of his first investitures, again, is very special.
“It’s great to receive an award, particularly for me this one, this KCMG, which normally is associated with diplomatic service.
“I worked for Africa, I was a foreign minister for four years and was chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, so in many ways the fact it is a KCMG is even more special to me than the fact I’m knighted at all, because it’s a hat tip for all those in the diplomatic service that I had something to do with, with them for a number of years, hopefully not over.”