ritons who have reflected the Queen’s “invaluable” qualities have been recognised on her Birthday Honours list as the nation celebrates the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee.
Famous faces in showbiz, sport and politics – including actor Damian Lewis, former Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster and broadcaster Clare Balding – have been honoured.
Lewis said that he and his late wife Helen McCrory were both “thrilled” after the 51-year-old television, film and stage star was made a CBE.
The couple raised money for Feed NHS, a fundraiser to give food from high street restaurants to NHS staff during coronavirus lockdowns, before acclaimed actress McCrory died in April 2021 aged 52 following a battle with cancer.
Lewis told the PA news agency: “What a great honour to be awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to drama and for the charity work that I have carried out over the years and during the pandemic with my late wife, Helen McCrory.
“Thank you very much. She and I are both thrilled.”
More consideration was given to people who represented themes such as youth engagement, the environment and sustained public service, according to those behind the selection process.
There were top honours for English-Indian author Sir Salman Rushdie and illustrator Sir Quentin Blake, who were made Companions of Honour for services to literature and illustration respectively.
Sir Quentin said: “Of course, it is an enormous privilege to be appointed a Companion of Honour, but it is also of special interest to me because it is not, unlike so many awards, just a medal that is pinned on you.”
Sir Salman said: “It was with great surprise and delight that I learned of this extraordinary honour. It’s a privilege to be included in such illustrious company, both past and present.”
Elsewhere in showbiz, fashion designer Stella McCartney was made a CBE.
MBEs were served up to MasterChef duo John Torode and Gregg Wallace for services to food and charity.
Torode said: “I am truly thrilled, humbled and very grateful and I’d like to thank those who nominated me for this great honour of an MBE.”
And his co-star Wallace said: “From a council estate in Peckham to being recognised by the Queen is for me something akin to a fairytale story. I am incredibly, incredibly proud.”
Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus novels and winner of several national and international awards, was knighted for services to literature and charity.
Also knighted was Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the V&A Museum and co-chair of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which on Sunday will see a 3km carnival procession through central London featuring a cast of thousands.
A record proportion of Queen’s Birthday Honours went to women, the percentage this year – 51.5% – slightly higher than the previous record of 51.2% set in 2015.
The proportion going to people from ethnic minority backgrounds, 13.3%, was down from a record 15.0% last year, while slightly more went to people who are disabled.
The percentage of LGBT recipients was down slightly from last year, from 5.0% to 4.6%.
Balding said: “I am so surprised and truly thrilled to receive such a prestigious honour and very much see it as a reflection of how much people care about sport.
“I love being given the opportunity to broadcast sporting events and to talk about the positive impact of sport.”
In the football world, five-time Champions League winner and former Tottenham winger Gareth Bale and Liverpool player James Milner were made MBEs, while ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand became an OBE.
Eve Muirhead, of Great Britain’s women’s curling side, was made an OBE after helping the country to top the podium in the Winter Olympics in February.
Her teammates Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff, Mili Smith and Victoria Wright became MBEs along with coach David Murdoch.
Meanwhile, cricketer Moeen Ali was made an OBE.
Ali said: “It’s an honour to be recognised, it’s amazing and my family are really proud and happy. More than anything, I know it makes my parents happy.”
Former Stormont first minister and ex-DUP leader Arlene Foster was made a dame and Conservative MP and former attorney general Jeremy Wright was knighted, days after calling for the Prime Minister to resign in the wake of the partygate saga.
Dame Arlene said: “This is the Platinum Jubilee year and Her Majesty the Queen has given so much devotion and service to the country, so to receive it in her Platinum Jubilee year is really special for me. It’s a real thrill for me.”
Tory MPs Maria Miller, Tracey Crouch and Chris Skidmore are also on the list, with a damehood, CBE and OBE respectively, while Labour MP Nia Griffith is also made a dame and her colleague Stephen Timms is knighted.
And there was a second successive honour for the Blair family following former prime minister Sir Tony’s knighthood at New Year, as his son Euan was named an MBE for services to education in his role as founder of Multiverse, which provides apprenticeship programmes.
Elsewhere, NHS England national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis and AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot were knighted and England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May was made a dame as they appeared among a host of names recognised for their effort during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Angela Redgrave, 104, the oldest recipient on the list, and twins Elena and Ruben Evans-Guillen, 11, the youngest, received BEMs, the latter two after raising £50,000 for the NHS over the past three years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “This historic Platinum Jubilee is not only a celebration of the monarch but of the qualities she possesses.
“The honours she confers this week reflect many of those qualities that have been invaluable from all different walks of life and to communities across the UK.
“I pay tribute to all of this year’s winners. Their stories of courage and compassion are an inspiration to us all.”
A Government spokeswoman told a briefing at Lancaster House, in central London, on Tuesday: “Each of our selection committees was asked in particular to consider the themes of the Jubilee, looking at youth engagement, environment and sustainability and sustained public service.
“So those were considered alongside all of the things usually looked at, service to others, sustained commitment.
“But we have sought particularly to consider and promote cases which exemplify those themes, which are the themes across the entirety of the Jubilee.”