King Charles III announced his first birthday honours list on Friday, awarding a knighthood to British writer Martin Amis, who died from cancer last month.
The honours — announced at New Year and to mark the sovereign’s official birthday in June — award the famous and ordinary members of the public for excellence.
Amis, the author of “Money”, “London Fields” and “Time’s Arrow”, who once dismissed the British royal family as “philistines”, accepted the honour before his death aged 73 at his home in Florida.
Recipients are told confidentially in advance until the list is published.
Sources told AFP the knighthood — which would have made Amis “Sir Martin” — is to be dated May 18, the day before his death.
British-Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri and director Stephen Frears — whose film “The Queen” recounted the royals’ turmoil following the death of Princess Diana — also became “sirs”.
Amis’ friend and fellow novelist Ian McEwan and US-based Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour were made companions of honour, joining a select group — never numbering more than 65 — recognised for major contributions in their field.
Amis’s novelist father Kingsley was also knighted and was sometimes scathing about the royals. However, he described Charles in 2011 as “charming… and very knowledgeable”, although “he has an extraordinary laugh, like a pig’s snore”.
– Volunteers honoured –
Many of the more than 1,100 people recognised are volunteers, in line with Charles’s decision to put charitable works at the centre of his coronation celebrations.
Hundreds of volunteers were invited to his crowning at Westminster Abbey on May 6 and two days later a national day of volunteering was held on a special public holiday.
The king’s first list puts a “renewed focus” on those making a “profoundly positive impact” on society, said the government’s Cabinet Office department which oversees the awards.
Among the recipients is Alice Good, 55, from Northumberland in northeast England, who set up Sunflower Sisters to help Ukrainian families fleeing the Russian invasion after seeing an online plea from a woman with a young daughter.
“It was just that image and thinking, ‘Oh my god that could be me… there must be something I can do’,” she told AFP.
– #BoysCanDance –
The group offers a hand of friendship to the women, helping them to navigate sponsors, visas and finding independent accommodation as well as sending aid to the war-torn country.
Good said that after coming up with the idea she was joined by many others who now help her to run the constantly evolving project.
“We’ve got so many women still trying to come out of Ukraine,” she said, adding that they were now grappling with a lack of sponsors.
The youngest person to be honoured is performing arts student Junior Frood, 18, from Merseyside in northwest England.
Frood started the Twitter hashtag #BoysCanDance and became an anti-bullying advocate after he was targeted at primary school for his love of dance.
Dancing since the age of three, he said he “just always had a groove”.
But after being subjected to taunts and even physical abuse he resolved to prove the bullies wrong and has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and supported other boy dancers facing the same struggles he encountered.
“I just felt really isolated in myself, I felt I couldn’t turn to anybody but I didn’t want to let anyone stop me because it was my dream,” he said.
The honours list is followed on Saturday with Trooping the Colour, the annual military parade for the British monarch’s official birthday.
Charles, 74, is expected to inspect troops and take a royal salute on horseback — the first time any sitting monarch has ridden at the even since his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in 1986.
Also honoured in the list are many of those who helped to organise her funeral after her death last September. (AFP)