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As per tradition, King Charles tapped May on the shoulder with a sword during the investiture https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-64960536

As per tradition, King Charles tapped May on the shoulder with a sword during the investiture

Source: BBC


Per Wikipedia we can see that Brian May has several accolades; he was a graduate student in Astronomy, became a famous rock guitar player with Queen, then finished his thesis, worked with NASA for public outreach (cd. music video New Horizons) to name a few, and of course most importantly (humor) has been featured here in Astronomy Stack Exchange.

In the above two posts (and a few in Space Exploration SE) I've referred to May with a "(CBE)" after his name, a bit like I refer to Sir Martin Polyakov and his videos in Chemistry SE

Recently May has officially graduated to "Sir Brian", cf. BBC's March 15, 2023 Brian May knighted by King at Buckingham Palace

If I were to update my posts, what would be the best way to properly refer to him? Perhaps:

  1. Sir Brian May
  2. Brian May (OBE)
  3. Dr. Sir Brian
  4. something else

1 Brian May and coelostat for capturing zodiacal light for spectral analysis:

Brian May and coelostat for capturing zodiacal light for spectral analysis

Source

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According to De Brett's, and referenced in this Academia post you would expect to use Sir Brian May (OBE).

I have made the assumption that the most relevant use cases on that De Brett's page would be either Envelope or Legal Document.

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Well pardon my Irish backside but I'll happily refer to him as "Dr. May" (which is handy as my GP is called that too) but not by yon Imperialist title. :-)

OK, seriously, I think on a forum dedicated to science the "Doctor" honorific is surely more appropriate than anything else, as I gather he has a PhD.

That said we've never been a site where your credentials matter as much as your demonstrated knowledge, so maybe nothing would be better.

Either that or "MOQ" (Member of Queen) which I'm also cool with. Surely better than some title they give to the likes of politicians.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm fairly well aligned with your sentiment on this. +1 I refuse to honor my other family's birthday because it's a silly concept and don't let them honor mine. They argue that while it's an arcane concept, it's just something one does, if for no other reason, then for the heck of it. Perhaps a similar argument works in this case? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 25, 2023 at 22:17
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Stack Exchange does not require formal terms of address. So it is correct to refer to him as "Brian May"

I would expect the same for "Professor Stephen Hawking CBE CH" (refer to him as "Stephen Hawking"

I would expect the same of "The Right Honourable Baron Rees of Ludlow OM FRS FREng FMedSci FRAS HonFInstP" - Refer to him as "Martin Rees".

While it is normal and professional to use an academic title (Prof. Hawking, Dr May) instead of "Mr, Mrs, Ms" There is absolutely no reason to use postnomials (either academic, fellowships, or membership of chivralic orders) nor "Sir". In particular "Sir May" is absolutely incorrect.

The simple guideline should be "refer to people by name".

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