Hamilton knighthood caps year of record-breaking feats on F1 tracks
Despite being one of the UK’s most successful sportsmen, Hamilton had previously been repeatedly overlooked, reportedly due to his tax affairs.
The honour rounds off a bumper year for Hamilton which saw him equal Michael Schumacher’s record with a seventh Formula One title and being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time.
Veteran footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers are also made MBEs after a long-running campaign to ensure every surviving member of England’s 1966 World Cup squad gets an honour.
There is a damehood for actress Sheila Hancock, who made her name in the West End before becoming a perennial figure on British TV screens. Commenting on the award, Hancock joked she felt “slightly miscast”.
“I’ve never felt myself this sort of person. It just doesn’t happen to people like me. I feel I may be lowering the tone. I feel slightly miscast, let’s put it that way,” she said.
People striving to end issues such as homelessness, domestic abuse and social isolation also receive awards, including Kim Leadbeater – sister of murdered MP Jo Cox – who becomes an MBE.
Hamilton’s knighthood – awarded in the overseas list – may raise a few eyebrows, both because of his decision to relocate to Monaco in 2010 and also because he credited his success in 2020 to a new determination inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
In November, Motorsport UK launched a campaign with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Formula One to ensure he was handed a knighthood, with chairman David Richards saying the driver’s tax status had been “totally misunderstood”.
The 35-year-old took the knee on the grid and wore anti-racism slogans during the season. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Boxing Day, he said: “It was a different drive than what I’ve had in me in the past, to get to the end of those races first so that I could utilise that platform (for Black Lives Matter) and shine the light as bright as possible.”
The honours system, in which most recipients receive titles linked to the Order of the British Empire, has faced renewed criticism for allegedly glorifying Britain’s colonial past.
Earlier this month shadow education secretary Kate Green, herself an OBE, branded the wording of the honour “offensive and divisive”.
Welsh actor Michael Sheen revealed on Tuesday that he handed back his OBE so he could air his views about the monarchy and its role in Wales without being a “hypocrite”.
Other film and TV stars to make the cut include former EastEnders actress Nina Wadia and ‘Coronation Street’ stalwart Sally Dynevor.
Wadia, who rose to fame in sketch show ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, is made an OBE, while Dynevor, who has played Sally Webster on the soap since 1986, becomes an MBE.
Academy Award nominee Lesley Manville is made a CBE for services to drama and charity, and actor Toby Jones, who counts the Harry Potter franchise among his many film credits, becomes an OBE.