Silver screen queen, golfing kings get royal nod
(Embargoed for publication on Saturday, Dec 31 at 0001 GMT)
LONDON Dec 31 (Reuters) - After playing the mother of Queen Elizabeth in "The King's Speech", actress Helena Bonham Carter will take part in a real-life royal performance when she receives an honour from the monarch herself.
The actress is among close to 1,000 people from all walks of life whose achievements are recognised in the annual New Year's Honours List.
Northern Irish golfers Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, who won the U.S. and British opens this year, are also on the list, capping an outstanding year for UK golf.
Most of the people honoured with knighthoods or a variety of slightly lesser traditional titles such as Commander, Officer or Member of the Order of the British Empire (CBE, OBE and MBE), are unknown to the public.
Among them is former teenage drug dealer and gang member Chris Preddie, now 24, who renounced crime after his brother was shot dead and now campaigns against knife and gun crime among black youths in London.
Preddie is related to two brothers who murdered a 10-year-old boy in 2000, a crime that shocked Britain. The victim's father told British media he objected to Preddie being honoured with an OBE.
TV producer Peter Bazalgette, credited with popularising the "Big Brother" reality show format across the globe, will receive a knighthood - becoming Sir Peter - which may please legions of Big Brother fans but dismay critics who say the show is vulgar.
Novelist Penelope Lively, a past winner of the prestigious Booker Prize for her 1987 novel Moon Tiger, is also on the list. She becomes a "Dame", the female equivalent of a knighthood.
A rung down from a Dame with her CBE award, Bonham Carter received one of her two Oscar nominations for portraying Queen Elizabeth's mother in Oscar-winning film The King's Speech.
She will experience true royal pomp when she receives her award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace next year, but she is no stranger to nobility, coming from an aristocratic family. Her great-grandfather, the Earl of Oxford and Asquith, served as prime minister under Elizabeth's grandfather, King George V.
Also honoured at a high point in a long career is golfer Clarke, who won the last British Open at the age of 42, on his 20th attempt. He will receive an OBE, one step down from CBE.
It was a particularly emotional win for Clarke, who has gone through hard times since losing his wife to cancer in 2006. He was the oldest winner of the Open since 1967 and the first home champion in 12 years.
McIlroy will have an MBE to show for his efforts during a rollercoaster year that saw him throw away victory at the U.S. Masters in April only to bounce back by clinching his first major at the U.S. Open in June.
At 22, McIlroy was the youngest winner of the championship since 1923.
Queen Elizabeth, whose sporting interests lie more in the world of horse-racing than of golf, does not draw up the Honours' List herself. Government officials seek out worthy recipients, who can also be nominated by members of the public.
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