A Kink, a former Spice Girl, a Vogue editor and a dedicated glassblower are moving up a notch or two in the British hierarchy. Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year honors list focuses on sports stars, some luminaries from the world of fashion and entertainment, and a heavy helping of researchers, doctors and volunteers who have worked behind-the-scenes to improve the quality of British life.
The list includes Oscar-winning actor and stage star Mark Rylance, who will become a knight, and the formerly pouting pop star Victoria Beckham, reinvented as a successful fashion designer, who will be made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, usually known as an OBE. Not bad for a performer who made her name as a Spice Girl.
The Kinks’ Ray Davies, one of the most influential figures in the British invasion that reshaped rock `n’ roll in the 1960s, will become a knight, and American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who will become a dame.
The 72-year-old Davies, known for his brilliant songwriting and playing, said he ”initially I felt a mixture of surprise, humility, joy and a bit embarrassed but after thinking about it, I accept this for my family and fans as well as everyone who has inspired me to write.”
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He will join contemporaries Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Van Morrison and Elton John as rockers-turned-knights.
Wintour has for decades been a leading figure in fashion journalism; Beckham, once known as Posh Spice, has in recent years earned respect throughout the industry with her designs.
Her husband, retired soccer star David Beckham, received the same honor more than a decade ago. British honors are awarded at New Year’s and on the queen’s official birthday in June. The honorees are actually chosen by civil servants committees based on nominations from the government and the public.
For Rylance, the honor comes less than a year after he won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his stellar performance in Steven Spielberg’s ”Bridge of Spies.” He has also won plaudits for his stage work and his performance in the BBC’s adaptation of ”Wolf Hall.”
The awards go far beyond the rich and famous. This year’s list includes an MBE award for Tom Young, a 79-year-old glassblower who produces scientific glassware used for technical instruments.
He said he was ”overwhelmed, humbled and very grateful for this award, which I never expected to receive and had no idea I had been nominated for.”
Martin Warren will receive an OBE for ”services to the environment” – namely his longtime work heading the Butterfly Conservation charity. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and, as the charity’s first staff member, helped grow it into an organization with a staff of 70 that manages 34 nature reserves. The honors will also make a knight of Don McCullin, an 81-year old photographer who has worked in conflict zones throughout the world. He vowed to continue his work until he ”can’t press the button anymore.”