Thanks, But No Thanks Betty!

The announcement of Betty Windsor’s latest birthday honours list appears to have created a mini brouhaha in the UK media, after the sexy lingerie salesman Joseph Corre rejected an honour on the bases that it was offered on behalf of Tony Blair’s government, which Mr Corre regarded as being “headed by a Prime Minister, who [he] finds morally corrupt, who has been involved in organized lying, to the point where thousands of people including children! have suffered death, detention and torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Joseph Corre’s rejection of this archaic left over from Feudalism, which epitomizes the wretched English class system, got me to thinking about how many others have rejected these divisive baubles. So I thought I would revisit the confidential document that was leaked to the London Sunday Times in 2003; and which contained the names of many of those who have rejected an honour from the UK Monarchy.

My own favorite is L.S.Lowry the great artist, he declined an OBE in 1955, the CBE in 1961, a knighthood in 1969, and a CH in 1972 and 1976; thus he holds the record for the most honors declined. It is as if the British establishment were determined to reel him in, much as if he was a prize trout. Lowry in turn was having none of it, it must have broken the hearts of those Whitehall civil servants who judge one and another by the lettering on the gongs they attain.

Peter Alliss, golfer and commentator (declined OBE in 2002)
Frank Auerbach, artist (declined a knighthood in 2003)
Charles Babbage, scientist.
Francis Bacon, artist and great company over a drink. (declined CBE, in 1960 and CH in 1977)
J.G.Ballard, author (declined CBE in 2003)
Nancy Banks-Smith, television critic of the first order. (declined CBE in 1970)
Leonard Barden, British Chess Champion in 1954 (declined an MBE)
Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty international(declined knighthood)
Alan Bennett, playwright, and a man who actually listens to people. (declined knighthood in 1996 and CBE in 1988)
Isaiah Berlin[sir] OM, philosopher (declined life peerage in 1980)
Honor Blackman, actress (declined CBE in 2002)
David Bowie, musician (declined CBE in 2000; declined knighthood in 2003)
Francis Boyd[sir], journalist (declined CBE in 1967; accepted knighthood in 1976)
Ken Branagh, actor and director (declined CBE in 1990s
Benjamin Britten, composer (declined knighthood; accepted CH, OM and life peerage)
Jim Broadbent, actor (declined OBE in 2002)
Margaret Callaghan [lady] campaigner and fundraiser (declined DBE)
Winston S Chrchill, KG, OM, CH, statesman (declined dukedom in order to remain in House of Commons and to allow his son a political career)
John Cole, journalist (declined CBE in 1993)
Joseph Conrad, author (declined knighthood)
Joseph Corre, undie salesman [declined MBE in 2007]
John Clesse, actor and comedian (declined CBE in 1996)
Hugh Cudlipp, OBE, newspaper editor, (declined knighthood in 1966. Accepted Knighthood 1973 and a life peerage in 1974)Hugh Bruce Cunningham, minister (declined knighthood in 1700s)
Roald Dahl, author (declined OBE in 1986)
Bernie Ecclesstone, owner of F1 who gave NL labour a ….
Michael Faraday, chemist and physicist (declined knighthood)
Albert Finney, actor (declined CBE in 1980 and knighthood in 2000)
Michael Frayn, dramatist (declined CBE in 1989 and knighthood in 2003)
Dawn French, comediene and writer.
Jennifer Saunders, comediene and writer.
Lucian Freud, artist (declined CBE in 1977; accepted CH in 1983 and OM in 1993)
John Galsworthy, novelist (declined knighthood, accepted OM)
Robert Graves, poet and novelist (declined CBE in 1957 and CH in 1984)
Graham Green, wonderful author (declined OBE in 1956; accepted CH in 1966 and OM in 1986)
Douglas Haig, donkey and WWI general (declined viscountcy, later accepted earldom)
Thomas Hardy,novelist/poet (declined knighthood; accepted OM)
Lenny Henry, comedian (declined OBE; accepted CBE)
Wally Herbert,[Sir] polar explorer (declined CBE, accepted knighthood)
Alfred Hithcock, director (declined CBE in 1962; accepted KBE in1980)
David Hockney,artist (declined knighthood in 1990; accepted CH in 1997)
Charles Holden, architect
A.E.Houseman, poet
Trevor Howard, actor (declined knighthood)
Aldous Huxley, author (declined knighthood in 1959)
Augustos John, artist (declined knighthood on a number of occasions, probably at the urging of his wife; accepted OM)
Anish Kapoor, artist.
Rudyard Kipling, author and poet (declined knighthood)
Richard Lambert, editor of the Financial Times.
Phil Larkin, poet (declined OBE 1968 on grounds that he deserved a higher honour; accepted CBE 1975 and CH 1985; declined Laureateship 1984)
T.E.Lawrence, CB, DSO, World War I soldier, diplomat, and author, best known as Lawrence of Arabia (declined KCB)
Nigella Lawson, cookery writer (declined OBE)
John Le Carrie, author (declined CBE)
Dorris Lessing, author (declined OBE in 1977 and DBE in 1993; accepted CH in 2000)
C.S.Lewis, author, Oxford professor (declined knighthood to avoid association with any political issues)
Ken Loach, director and all round good egg, (declined OBE)
L.S.Lowry, artist (declined OBE in 1955, CBE in 1961, knighthood in 1968, and CH in 1972 and 1976; holds the record for the most honours declined)
Geraldine McEwan, actress (declined OBE in 1986 and damehood in 2002)
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum (declined knighthood in 1999)
Barry McGuigan, boxer (declined MBE in 1986; accepted MBE in 1994)
Alexander MacKenzie, second Prime Minister of Canada (declined knighthood as he thought it an affront to his Scottish heritage)
Dan McKenzie, earth scientist (declined knighthood; accepted CH in 2003)
Hank Marvin, guitarist. (declined OBE)
A.E.W.Mason, novelist, who declared that honours meant nothing to a childless man.
George Melly, musician, artist and raconteur (declined CBE in 2001)
Helen Mirren [Dame] actress (declined CBE in 1996; accepted DBE in 2003)
William Martin Murphy, industrialist, MP and all round creep. (declined knighthood in 1906)V.S.Naipaul,[sir] author (declined CBE in 1977; accepted knighthood in 1990)
Harold Pinter, playwright (declined knighthood; accepted CH)
Anthony Powell, writer (declined knighthood; accepted CH)
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE, actress and political activist. (declined DBE in 1999)
J.B.Priestly, OM, playwright
Richard Redgrave, artist (declined knighthood in 1869)
Keith Richards, guitarist and amusing fellow when not stoned. (declined CBE)
John Singer Sargent, US painter (declined an honorary knighthood)
Paul Scofield, CH, CBE, actor (declined knighthood on several occasions)
Alastair Sim, CBE, actor (declined a knighthood)
Robert Simpson, composer (declined CBE)
Savenaca Siwatibau, academic (declined CBE)
Joan Smith, journalist (declined MBE)
Jon Snow, newscaster and wearer of god awful ties and socks (declined OBE)
Claire Tomalin, journalist and biographer
Polly Toynbee, columnist whose heart is always in the right place but political head is up her ….(declined CBE in 2000)
Ralph Vaughan Williams, composer (declined knighthood; accepted OM)
Evelyn Waugh, novelist (declined CBE in 1959)
Paul Weller, first rate musician and mockney mod. (declined CBE in 2007)
Rachel Whiteread, artist (declined MBE in 1997; accepted CBE in 2006)
Grace Williams, composer (declined OBE)
Mike Winner, director (declined OBE in 2006)
Pearl Witherington, SOE agent (declined later compensating award of MBE when men who had performed the same heroic acts in same wartime Resistance roles were being awarded MC (Military Cross) at the time. Her recommendation had been turned down simply because of her sex, not lack of gallantry.
Bill Woodfull, cricketer, what a man, (declined knighthood in 1934 for services to cricket; accepted OBE in 1963 for services to education)
W.B.Yates, Anglo-Irish poet (declined knighthood in 1915, seven years before becoming a Senator of the newly-formed Irish Free State)
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and brother, a real pioneer. (declined OBE)
Craig Murray, former United Kingdom Ambassador to Uzbekistan and a man with real balls. (declined LVO, OBE and CVO)

Apparently no official provision exists for renouncing an honour, any such act is always unofficial, and the record of the award in The London Gazette stand’s. Thus whilst the following have returned their bling, as far as the UK State is concerned they still hold their gong. Like god it seems Betty’s decision is final, so if any lefties in a moment of egotistical weakness may be tempted, better if they just say no!

Yasmin Alibhai-Brownjournalist (returned MBE in 2003)
Roy Bailey, folk singer (returned his MBE in August 2006 in protest at the UK government’s foreign policy in Lebanon and Palestine)
John Lennon, musician (returned MBE in 1969)
Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, cricketer (knighted in 1936; returned knighthood in 1947 on India’s independence)
Rabindranath Tagore, author and poet (knighted in 1915; returned knighthood in 1919 to protest the Amritsar massacre
Susie Wighton, aid worker (returned MBE in 2006 in protest at the UK government’s foreign policy in the Middle East)

* Much of the infomation above came from Wikepedia—


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