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State & Ceremonial

Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and ​Jonny Wilkinson among Queen’s Birthday Honours

Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne, rugby star Jonny Wilkinson and footballer Frank Lampard OBE are among 1,163 people who have been been honoured in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. This year, officials were keen to point out that the list sees a 51% representation for women, equalling the record of the 2014 New Years honours list for the highest representation of women.

Actors Benedict Cumberbatch CBE, Eddie Redmayne OBE and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson CBE are among the recipients.

Actors Benedict Cumberbatch CBE, Eddie Redmayne OBE and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson CBE are among the recipients.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours, which is one of the two annual honours lists released (the other at New Year’s) in which individuals who have made a contribution to public life, in one way or another, are honoured for their service.

Honours can range from knighthoods (such as that for veteran politicians Simon Burns MP, Simon Hughes and Conservative party treasurer Henry Angest) to the recently-reintroduced British Empire Medal, given for contributions on a more local level, such as that of 17-year-old ?Natasha Lambert who was born with athetoid cerebral palsy and is being recognised for her charitable fundraising.

This year, 70% of recipients have completed work in their local communities which have merited their awards, with a 7% representation for black and ethnic minorities on the list and a similar representation for those who are disabled.

Of the 1,163 awards made, 295 are of the British Empire Medal, while 481 individuals have been awarded the MBE and 237 the OBE. The remainder represent awards at the higher levels, including the CBE and knighthoods and damehoods.

The Order of the British Empire

Most public honours are to the Order of the British Empire. The grades are, from highest to lowest…

GBE – Knight/Dame Grand Cross

KBE/DBE – Knight/Dame Commander

CBE – Commander

OBE – Officer

MBE – Member

Also associated with the Order is the British Empire Medal, which allows the holder to add “BEM” to their name.

Among those particularly notable awards this year is that of the BEM to 21-year-old Katie Cutler, who was responsible for organising a £300,000 fundraiser for 67-year-old Alan Barnes who was mugged in Gateshead. Miss Cutler receives the honour for “services to Fundraising in the community in Gateshead”.

Two awards of the Companion of Honour have also been made to Sir Neville Marriner (for services to music) and Lord Woolf, for “promoting the rule of law, human rights, prison reform and inter­faith dialogue”.

The Order of Companions of Honour is strictly limited to 65 members and is awarded for particularly eminent contributions to public life, with very limited numbers of awards made each year.

While the honours list attempts to predominately reward ‘unsung heroes’, a number of well-known personalities who’ve made their own contribution to national life are also represented on the list. Along with those aforementioned, singer M?ichael Ball receives the OBE; as well as broadcaster Nicky Campbell who is up for an OBE also for his work on adoption and fostering and Martin Clunes who receives an OBE too for charity work and services to acting.

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor receives a CBE for services to drama, along with actress Lesley Manville who receives an OBE.

Meanwhile, television writer Steven Moffat – who contributed to the revived Doctor Who from 2004 and also BBC television show Sherlock – picks up an OBE also.

Cabinet officials note there are 86 years between the youngest recipient (17-year-old Natasha Lambert BEM) and the oldest recipient: one Dr William Frankland who is 103-years-old and receives the MBE for his work in allergy research and introducing this as a specialism in the UK.

Among those up for awards for charitable work is Z?arine Kharas, who receives the DBE (a damehood) for founding the donation website Just Giving. She joins six other women who are to receive damehoods from Her Majesty in the next six months.

With the exception of the British Empire Medal, the 868 recipients of awards ranging from knighthoods to MBEs will each receive their award personally from Her Majesty (or another member of the Royal Family) at an investiture during the next six months. Until then, and from today, they are still permitted to use their new titles and post nominals however won’t receive their insignia until their investiture.

Along with the over 1,000 individuals receiving honours domestically, there are also 90 honourees who have been nominated for awards (including in the diplomatic-orientated Order of St Michael and St George) for their services in representing the United Kingdom around the world, nominated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This includes one Mark Thomson who receives a CBE for services to global torture prevention and Elizabeth Mehta, who receives an MBE for services to education in India.

Sir Simon Fraser, head of the Diplomatic Service, commented, “I am delighted to see so many exceptional people recognised in the Birthday 2015 Honours list for their outstanding service to our country overseas.”

The foreign service list recommended three individuals for knighthoods too. Dr Andrew Pocock, for his work as High Commissioner to Nigeria; Edward Zacca, for services to justice in the Overseas Territories and The Privy Council and Christopher Clark (a Cambridge professor) for services to British-German relations.

Among the domestic knighthoods recommended to Her Majesty are one for Dr Philip Campbell, who is the Editor of Nature magazine, for services to science; Paul Kenny, the General Secretary of the GMB union for services to trade unions and a top award in the Order of the Bath for the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury Sir Nicholas Macpherson, who already holds the grade of Knight Commander in the Order (moving up to the top, Knight Grand Cross).

Young people are also well-represented on the list this year, among whom is 25-year-old Robert Sewell who has personally given over 2,200 hours of volunteering to Newham Police: he receives the British Empire Medal. 23-­year-­old wheelchair tennis champion J?ordanne Whiley and 27-year­-old fashion entrepreneur J?ennifer Griffiths receive MBEs.

Laura Bates (25) receives the British Empire Medal for founding the Everyday Sexism project, campaigning against sexism and gender stereotyping. Similarly, feminist Caroline Criado-Perez is up for an OBE for her work on equality and diversity in the media.

Among the oldest recipients is Sir Naim Dangoor, 101-years-old, who receives the accolade of a knighthood for “extraordinarily generous philanthropy to a range of health, educational and religious charities”.

Numerous different fields are well-represented on this year’s Birthday honours list, including 11% of honours for those in the field of education; 7% for health; 10% for industry and the economy and 2% for science and technology.

Download the full 2015 domestic Birthday Honours list here.

photo credit (composite): Sam-nickon-adifansnet