26 Jan 2012

Queen’s honours: Who turned them down?

The author Roald Dahl and artist Lucian Freud are among more than 250 people who turned down honours from the Queen in the past 40 years, according to official government records.

Roald Dahl is among 277 people who turned down honours from the Queen.

The document, which was obtained under Freedom of Information laws, names a total of 277 individuals who refused prestigious accolades between 1951 and 1999, and who have since died.

It is believed to be the first official confirmation that hundreds of people have snubbed OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods in the annual New Year or Birthday Honours list.

Painters Francis Bacon and LS Lowry, the sculptor Henry Moore and novelist Aldous Huxley are also named in the list published by the Cabinet Office.

According to the list, Lowry turned down more honours than anybody else, with a total of five, including an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a knighthood in 1968.

Bacon turned down a CBE in 1960, while Freud refused the honour in the 1977 New Year’s Honours list.

Children’s author Roald Dahl, who rejected an OBE in the 1986 New Year’s Honours, was among a number of writers including CS Lewis who snubbed the accolade.

Political pressure

The list comes amid mounting political pressure for ex-Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin to be stripped of his knighthood following his role in the bank’s collapse.

The Prime Minister told MPs yesterday he expected the issue to be discussed in the coming days.

Several celebrities have in the past returned or rejected honours bestowed on them by the Queen. But traditionally, that information has not been in the public domain unless it has been volunteered.

‘Preposterous charade’

Beatles legend John Lennon returned his MBE in 1969, with a note to the Queen saying: “Your Majesty, I am returning this in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With Love, John Lennon of Bag.”

Co-founder of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur Joseph Corre also rejected the title in 2007, accusing Tony Blair of being “morally corrupt”.

Writer J G Ballard, who also rejected a CBE, is on record as saying he was opposed to the “preposterous charade” of the honours system.