It’s a tradition that dates back to at least 1890.

It is, of course, the New Year’s Honours list where awards are presented by or in the name of The Queen to Brits who have performed outstandingly in their field or improved life for other people.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, tennis star Emma Raducanu, actor Daniel Craig and actress Joanna Lumley were among the household names included in The Queen’s honours list yesterday (December 31).

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But not everyone has actually wanted the recognition. It is, after all, up to the individual to accept.

Here is a list of famous faces who have turned down a gong in the past.

Nigella Lawson

The 60-year-old chef and TV personality has had a long and successful career in the industry, from writing about food in The Sunday Times to publishing her own books, to starring in her own TV shows.

Naturally, as a bastion of British culture, Nigella was offered an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2001, but turned it down seemingly out of sheer modesty.



Nigella Lawson turned down an OBE from the Queen in 2001

When asked why she didn’t want the title, the Wandsworth-born star reportedly said: “I’m not saving lives and I’m not doing anything other than something I absolutely love.”

David Bowie

The ‘Heroes’ and ‘Changes’ singer apparently turned down two honours, a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000 and a knighthood three years later.

“I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that,” he told the Sun in 2003, the same year Mick Jagger was given a knighthood.



David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour, 5th June 1983.
David Bowie on his Serious Moonlight tour, 5th June 1983.

“I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s not what I spent my life working for.

“It’s not my place to make a judgment on Jagger, it’s his decision. But it’s just not for me.”

Some of The Beatles

While Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney accepted knighthoods, fellow Beatle George Harrison rejected an OBE the year before his death in 2001.

Journalist Ray Connolly, who knew The Beatles, told the Mail on Sunday in 2013: “Whoever it was who decided to offer him the OBE and not the knighthood was extraordinarily insensitive. George would have felt insulted – and with very good reason.”



26th October 1965: British pop group The Beatles, from left to right; Ringo Starr, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), Paul McCartney and George Harrison (1943 - 2001), outside Buckingham Palace, London, after receiving their MBEs (Member of the Order of the British Empire) from the Queen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The four Beatles were awarded MBEs in 1965 but one returned his honour and another refused an OBE

The Beatles did accept MBEs in 1965 – but, four years later, John Lennon returned his honour.

A spokesman for Apple the Beatle company, reportedly said that John had sent identical letters addressed to the Queen, the Prime Minister, and the Central Chancery saying his action was “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.”

Skepta

The Tottenham native, whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga, hinted that he had turned down an MBE for the 2017 New Year’s Honours in his song Hypocrisy.



Skepta performing at Parklife
Skepta performing at Parklife

In the second verse, the grime artist raps: “Just came back from the Ivors/ And look at what we collected/ The MBE got rejected/I’m not trying to be accepted.”

Stephen Hawking

In 2008, the physicist reportedly said that he had been approached with an offer of a knighthood in the late 1990s, but had turned it down

.



June 1975: Professor Stephen Hawking pictured in the same year he returned to Cambridge in a more academically senior post, as reader in gravitational physics
June 1975: Professor Stephen Hawking pictured in the same year he returned to Cambridge in a more academically senior post, as reader in gravitational physics

It was later alleged by Metro that his refusal was in protest against a lack of governmental funding for the sciences.

French and Saunders

The comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders turned down OBEs in 2001, with Jennifer reportedly explaining later to Source Magazine: “If I felt I deserved a Damehood I’d accept it.



Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders
Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders

“At the time, we felt that we were being paid very well to have a lot of fun. It didn’t seem right somehow.

“We didn’t deserve a pat on the back. It felt a bit fake to stand alongside people who devoted their lives to truly worthy causes.”

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