Two giants of the literary world, novelists Ian McEwan and the late Martin Amis, are recognized in the King’s first official birthday honors along with fashion colossus Dame Anna Wintour.
The Booker McEwan Prize winner, whose acclaimed titles include Amsterdam, On Chesil Beach and Atonement, becomes a Companion of Honor, the highest award for outstanding achievement, of which there are only 65 at any time.
Amis, his longtime friend, whose influential and groundbreaking novels include Money, London Fields and Time’s Arrow, is knighted, with the award dated May 18, the day before he died last month at the age of 73 , as honors cannot be awarded posthumously.
Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988, recognized for her campaign for equality, becomes a companion of honor.
McEwan said he was “thrilled”, comparing it to “a very good review”.
“I am now entering my 54th year of writing fiction. As all dedicated writers know, a literary life is not so much a career as a way of being. The task at hand, the romance one is trying to create, is always there, a constant and intimate companion,” he added.
“The writers who preceded me in this award are also long-time companions – Maugham, Greene, Larkin, Pinter, Margaret Atwood, Antonia Fraser and my friend Salman Rushdie. Truly, a friendly honor.
Ben Okri, the famous Nigerian-born poet, essayist and cultural activist, who won the Booker for The Famished Road, said he was delighted with his knighthood.
He said: “For me, the main value of this honor at this time is the need to remind my fellow human beings that we live on the cusp of a global environmental crisis. If we don’t do something radical now, in 10 years nothing will be the same. Art is a reminder that human destiny must go upwards. Now is the time to reverse our retrograde thinking and create a new future.
They are among 1,171 people recognized in a list that sees former hostage Terry Waite, 84, co-founder of Hostage International, knighted for his services to the UK overseas.
Waite, who as a Church of England envoy was captured and held for five years by Islamic Jihad terrorists in Beirut while trying to secure the release of four other hostages, said : “It’s a very important honor and I’m really amazed that I’ve got it. I’m making progress but I’m still working at 84 now. I’m still very active.
Philip Bigley, the brother of murdered Iraqi hostage Ken Bigley, is awarded an OBE for his work supporting those affected by kidnappings overseas. He was “both shocked and honored to be nominated for this award, which I graciously accept in memory of my brother, Ken, and on behalf of our family.”
Leading scientist Sir John Bell, who was the government’s czar in charge of Covid testing, receives the top Companion of Honor award. The Oxford University professor of medicine said the honor “reflects the efforts of the very large number of people in the industry who have made this discipline one of the strongest in the UK”.
Prolific film and television director Stephen Frears, whose vast body of work ranges from 1985’s My Beautiful Laundrette to The Queen, and the more recent BBC drama A Very British Scandal, is knighted.
Other well-known artistic personalities include Calendar Girls actress Celia Imrie, who became a CBE, and stage and TV actor Kenneth Cranham. TV presenter and menopause campaigner Davina McCall, who is becoming an MBE, said: “It’s a great honour.” Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure receives an MBE for her work on dementia.
In sports, footballer-turned-TV pundit Ian Wright is an OBE. Two wheelchair tennis stars, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, are awarded OBEs. Former Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko, who earned 102 caps for the Lionesses during her playing career, has been appointed MBE.
The same goes for Northern Ireland international and Leicester City defender Jonny Evans. Capped 100 times by Northern Ireland, Evans said he was “very proud, especially when I saw it was in recognition of my contribution to association football in Northern Ireland”. Former Scotland and Rangers player John Greig is appointed CBE.
In the media, there are knights for Mark Thompson, the former BBC chief executive turned New York Times CEO, and Sky executive Jeremy Darroch. Ken Bruce, who recently left BBC radio after 31 years for Greatest Hits Radio, is appointed MBE for his services to radio and autism awareness. The broadcaster, who has an autistic son, said he hoped the award could help shine a light on “the many difficulties people with autism face”.
Photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale is made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George for his work highlighting human rights and conflict.
Recognized politicians include Labor MP and former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw, who is knighted. Tory MPs Robert Blackman and John Baron both receive CBEs, while Tory MPs Heather Wheeler and Damian Collins are appointed OBEs.
William Shawcross, commissioner for public appointments and former chairman of the Charity Commission, is knighted for public office. Shawcross, whose review of the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism program has been criticized by some MPs and campaigners, said he was “pleased and very grateful” for the honour.
MI6 chief Richard Moore is knighted for his services to the UK overseas. So does Dr. John Chipman, DG and CEO of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Alex Chisholm, the permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office, is knighted. Sir Simon Gass, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.
Jacqueline Baillie, deputy leader of the Scottish Labor Party, has become a lady, as have leading economist Professor Diane Coyle and Annette King, one of the most influential people in the UK advertising industry. Professor Averil Mansfield, who became the first female professor of surgery in the UK, Kathryn McDowell, the chief executive of the London Symphony Orchestra and Elizabeth Nicholl, the former CEO of UK Sport, are also among those who receive femininities.
From medicine, Sheila Reith, pioneer of the first insulin pen, transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people with diabetes, became CBE.
Consultant gynecologist Alan Farthing, who helped deliver the Prince and Princess of Wales’ three children, has been made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO), which is the order of honors as a personal gift from the king. Farthing was a Royal Household Surgeon-Gynecologist for several years and is one of the country’s pioneers in the use of keyhole surgery to treat patients with gynecological cancer.
The oldest recipient is Joan Willett, 106, who received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her charitable fundraising for the British Heart Foundation.
Among those recognized, half are women, 11% come from an ethnic minority, 13% are disabled or suffer from a long-term illness and 23% consider themselves to come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said: “This year’s awards are a tribute to ordinary people who have shown extraordinary community spirit, and I pay tribute to all who have been recognized today. Our honors system has long been a means of recognizing people who make an incredible contribution to life in Britain and beyond.