The Princess Royal presided over the investiture ceremony on Tuesday at Windsor Castle, recognising the contributions of singer Joan Armatrading and campaigner Polly Brooks.
Armatrading, who was invested as a Commander of the British Empire for services to music, charity and human rights, joked to reporters afterwards that she “levelled up” from her MBE she received 20 years ago.
“It’s actually fantastic to receive this, I was given an MBE in 2001 and that was a shock but this is a double shock because I didn’t really expect to get levelled up, as the government says.”
She also had thoughts on the use of the word ‘Empire’ in the awarding of the UK’s honours, saying, “Every country awards its citizens some kind of an appreciation thing which says this is what we think of what you’ve been doing, have this, and I don’t understand people who think that’s a problem.
“We know that the Empire doesn’t exist, we know that, that’s all gone, it doesn’t exist, it used to. We all know that wasn’t quite the right thing to do, we all know that, but that doesn’t mean the country can’t reward its citizens still.
“And eventually they will come up with something that takes away the Empire name because, I think, it’s only because they can’t come up with what should happen (next), and, you know, everyone’s got an opinion about what that should be, that’s why it can’t be settled.”
Polly Brooks was recognised for her services to charity work, as she founded a charity fund that helps those suffering from burn injuries in honour of her late husband.
The Royal Family carries out investiture ceremonies over the course of the year to recognise members of the British public and military personnel who go above and beyond. The list of those recognised is published twice a year, on New Year’s and on The Queen’s birthday.