Queen Elizabeth II has announced her favored actors, singers, civil servants and politicians, along with more ordinary folk, who have contributed significantly to the British community recently, through the publication of the honors list.
According to The Guardian, this year the Queen has granted 1,064 awards to hard working charity workers, long serving public officials and successful British actors, writers and musicians. Reuters estimates that 72% of the awards went to so-called 'unsung heroes', with the rest of the awards going to more familiar persons.
Of the list of people receiving honors from Queen Elizabeth II on her birthday, arguably the most famous recipient of one of the higher awards is the actor Kenneth Branagh, who has been knighted (he will now be known as Sir Kenneth). Branagh was born on 10 December 1960 and is a respected film director, whose works include movies as diverse as "Henry V" (1989) and "Thor" (2011). Branagh has also performed in many films, including Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets".
Continuing with the movie theme, Kate Winslet was awarded a CBE (an explanation of these archaic titles is provided at the end of this article). Quoted by the BBC, the Oscar winning actress said that she was "surprised and honoured" and "This makes me very proud to be a Brit".
From an earlier era, the actress Jenny Agutter was given an OBE for her charitable work. Agutter is perhaps best known for the film "The Railway Children" (1970).
Although movie stars tend to make the media headlines, awards were also given to authors, musicians, and sports athletes. Amongst the writers were Susan Hill, who wrote the novel "The Woman in Black", which is also the second longest running play in London and was a recent film. An award was also made to the author Judith Kerr, who wrote the books based on the character "Mog" for children.
From music, an OBE went the forty-something 'boy band' singer Gary Barlow, of the pop group Take That, who received an OBE.
Sports starts who received awards included golfer Luke Donald, former Chelsea footballer (soccer) player Paul Elliott, and David James, former England goalkeeper.
Numerous awards were made to charity workers, for which the highest honor was the British Empire Medal. The 293 of these medals were awarded. Recipients included Audrey Lloyd, who has undertaken extensive community work in a deprived region of the UK, and Geoffrey Hopkinson, who has promoted beekeeping. Awards were also made to government officials and politicians.
The British honors system is made up of awards of different rank, each with its own acronym. At the top is being made a Companion or Dame, this is followed by knighthoods, then, in the following order, the CBE (Commander of the British Empire), OBE (Order of the British Empire), MBE (Member of the British Empire) and BEM (British Empire Medal). Whilst the terminology of 'Empire' is somewhat antiquated, the awards are a way for the British government and the Crown to recognize its most outstanding citizens of the time. Awards are made twice per year: in the summer as the Queen's Birthday Honors and for the New Year (announced on December 31). The Digital Journal previously reported on the awards bestowed by the Queen at the end of 2011.