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Fred Goodwin Has Seen Better Days

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The past couple years have not been what one might characterize as the best of times for former RBS CEO Fred Goodwin. After retiring from his post in November 2008, he missed out on helping the bank collect the award for biggest loss in British corporate history (£24.1 billion for the year), the windshield of his Mercedes-Benz S600 was smashed by a bunch of hoodlums, a brick was thrown through his window, and the banging of an underling came to light. He's also had quite a bit of trouble getting a new gig on account of being "overqualified." No, he's had it pretty rough but the one thing that kept him going? That made life slightly more bearable? That kept him warm at night? The fact that he could look himself in the mirror and see an official Knight looking back. "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke [vis- à-vis bombing a bank from the inside]," he'd say to himself. "One of us is a Knight and the other? Not so much." When the neighborhood kids would throw shit throw shit at his house and spray paint "royal bum" on his front walk, he could at least comfort himself by muttering, "That's Sir Royal Bum to you, thanks very much." And now? He can't even do that.

In what may be the ultimate clawback for a bank boss in the wake of the financial crisis, a U.K. government panel has stripped the knighthood of former Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC Chief Executive Fred Goodwin. Mr. Goodwin was awarded a knighthood in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II, an honor bestowed upon elite members of the U.K.'s corporate, cultural and military worlds. In those days, Mr. Goodwin was already known as "Fred the Shred" for a cost-cutting zeal that resulted in thousands of job losses. But after transforming RBS into a profitable international player, he was cited for "services to banking" in receiving his knighthood.

While he's probably far off from being able to see it this way, when he's ready, Fred might want to think about framing the disappointment the same way a very wise man once described losing his company 761 million pounds in three months: "a chastening experience" that everyone should go through at least once. Also! Who's to say he couldn't earn it back? The Queen might love a good comeback.

U.K. Claws Back Goodwin's Knighthood