Football’s Lionesses command the pride of their country in a New Year Honours list which also sees Queen guitarist Brian May and artist Grayson Perry knighted.
Captain Leah Williamson is among four of England’s Euro 2022-winning side to be named in the list, being made an OBE while her teammates Lucy Bronze, Whitby-born Beth Mead and Ellen White are all made MBEs.
The team’s Dutch head coach Sarina Wiegman also joins the party, after the Foreign Office made her an honorary CBE.
Bronze, 31, told the PA news agency: “To be recognised for everything I’ve done throughout my career was a little bit surreal. It’s just something so different to football and something harder to compute.
“An MBE is obviously a huge honour and very special. The first person I told was my grandma.
“My grandma probably doesn’t understand many of the awards I’ve won in football but she adored the Queen, so I thought ‘this (MBE) is going to be her special thing’.”
Musician and animal welfare campaigner Sir Brian, who famously played God Save The Queen on the roof of Buckingham Palace during the Golden Jubilee before performing again at the Platinum Jubilee two decades later, has been appointed a knight bachelor for services to music and charity.
The astrophysicist told PA: “I regard it as a kind of charge, like a kind of commission to do the things that one would expect a knight to do – to fight for justice, to fight for people who don’t have any voice.”
Sir Grayson, the 62-year-old artist, writer and broadcaster who is known for his tapestries, ceramic works and cross-dressing, is knighted for services to the arts while fashion designer Dame Mary Quant is made a Companion of Honour.
Others to receive knighthoods include politicians who proved to be thorns in the side of Boris Johnson, including Conservative Julian Lewis, chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons Standards Committee.
There is also a prestigious honour for former Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar, who becomes a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath having been summarily sacked by short-lived prime minister Liz Truss on her first day in office.
Elsewhere in sport, Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis, now the president of Commonwealth Games England, is made a dame, while in showbiz, actor Stephen Graham is made an OBE and comedian Frank Skinner an MBE.
Former royal aide Jason Knauf, who made a bullying complaint against the Duchess of Sussex, is among those appointed to the Royal Victorian Order (RVO), honours which are in the King’s gift and bestowed independently of Downing Street to people who have served the monarch or the royal family in a personal way.
Senior diplomats at the forefront of the UK’s response to the war in Ukraine have been included in the mix with damehoods for Melinda Simmons, ambassador in Kyiv, and Deborah Bronnert, ambassador in Moscow.
Others who worked on the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion have also been recognised, including Dr Paul Ransom, an emergency consultant, as well as Louenna Hood, a nanny from Cambridgeshire, who organised container loads of essentials to go directly to those fleeing the war-torn country.
Ms Hood, who will receive a British Empire Medal (BEM), said she is “completely stunned”, adding: “I started the campaign but I would never have been able to do it without the community.”
This year’s list, which is the first published since the Queen’s death and the first to be signed off by her son the King, includes a total of 1,107 recipients – 50% of whom are women.
The youngest to be honoured is Dara McAnulty, 18, from Annalong, County Down, who receives a BEM for his environmental work and work with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
And the oldest is 100-year-old Peter Davies, from Bollington, in Cheshire, who is also be awarded a BEM for his work as a reading volunteer at Dean Valley Community Primary School.
Themes reflected in the list of recipients include sustained public service, youth engagement and support for environmental and climate change action.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who has been knighted, is among a handful of Jewish community leaders to be recognised, also including the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, and several Holocaust survivors.
Sir Ephraim said he is “enormously honoured and deeply humbled”, adding: “It will be particularly moving for me to receive this award from His Majesty the King, in his first year as our monarch.”
Countdown presenter Rachel Riley is made an MBE in recognition of her efforts to raise awareness of the Holocaust and combat antisemitism.
People who campaigned to bring about changes in the law after their loved ones were killed are recognised for their work too, including Pc Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie.
She was compelled to lobby the Government for what became known as Harper’s Law after being “outraged” at the prison sentences handed to the three teenagers responsible for killing her husband while he responded to a burglary, hours after he was due to clock off and begin his honeymoon.
And Marie McCourt, the mother who campaigned for Helen’s Law to make it harder for killers and paedophiles who hold back information on their victims to receive parole, is made an MBE.
She said: “It’s nice to see people being given these awards – for people who have had to do things that have hurt them so much because of the reason why they want to make sure our laws are right and correct.”
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who has campaigned for policy change after her daughter Ella died aged nine from an asthma attack and air pollution in 2013, described being made a CBE after her daughter’s death as “bittersweet”, adding: “Although I got the inquest victory, she will be really, really proud that I didn’t give up.”
Virginia McKenna, the 91-year-old actress and co-founder of the Born Free Foundation, said her damehood “really belongs” to campaigners who are fighting to “end wild animal suffering and keep wildlife in the wild”.
Meanwhile, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, the director of UCL’s Institute of Health who has spoken out on how policies like austerity have affected public health, said he was “astonished” to be made a Companion of Honour.
“The idea that (what I do) should be recognised in that way is wonderful,” he said. “There are some countries where I would not be allowed to say what I say. I would not be allowed to tell the truth.”
Football figures from across the UK have also been honoured including Pat Jennings being made a CBE for his football and charity service in Northern Ireland, and Scotland’s football captain Andy Robertson being made MBE for his work for charity and with young people.
Former footballer Chris Kamara, who recently spoke out about his difficulties with the speech disorder apraxia, has been made an MBE for services to football, anti-racism and charity.
The decision to only recognise several members of the England women’s football squad following their Euros triumph was questioned after previous lists honoured all members of triumphant national teams.
In 2003, all 31 England players used in the Rugby World Cup were included on that year’s New Year Honours list, while the 2005 Ashes-winning England cricket team were also universally recognised, leading to some sledging by Australia’s spin bowler Shane Warne.
It has not always been the case though as in 2011, only three men who played key roles in the Ashes-winning side made the cut.
Asked why not all the Lionesses were included, Sir Hugh Robertson, chairman of the honours sports committee, told a press conference: “The approach that we’ve tried to take with this is when we have these events there is a danger in sort of carpet bombing the entire squad because then you get people who’ve done five minutes on the pitch and get an award.
“So what we’ve tried to do is stick to the principle of the honours system which is to recognise excellence and to recognise extraordinary contributions.”
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