Winslet, Branagh make queen's list

PROUD BRIT: Kate Winslet was named a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
PROUD BRIT: Kate Winslet was named a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Kate Winslet has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth for her titanic contribution to the arts.

The actress, who won a best actress Academy Award in 2009 for The Reader and made her breakthrough as the feisty Rose in 1997 blockbuster Titanic, has been named a Commander of the Order of the  British Empire, or CBE, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List,  published on Saturday.

Winslet said the honour made her ''very proud to be a Brit''.

''I am both surprised and honoured to stand alongside so many men and woman who have achieved great things for our country,'' the  36-year-old star said.

Actor and director Kenneth Branagh was made a knight and will be known as Sir Kenneth. A respected Shakespearean actor whose films  as a director range from Henry V and Hamlet to the comic-book fantasy Thor, Branagh said he felt ''humble, elated, and incredibly lucky'' to get the honour.

It puts him in a pantheon of theatrical  knights alongside the late Sir Laurence Olivier, whom Branagh  played in My Life With Marilyn.

''When I was a kid, I dreamed of pulling on a shirt for the Northern Ireland football team,'' said the Belfast-born, 51-year-old  actor.

''I could only imagine how proud you might feel. Today it feels like they just gave me the shirt, and my heart's fit to burst.''

The honours are bestowed twice yearly by the Queen - at New Year's and on her official birthday in June - but recipients are selected by civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

Most go to people who are not in the limelight, for services to  their community or industry, but they also reward a sprinkling of  famous faces.

Songwriter and philanthropist Richard Stilgoe, who wrote lyrics  for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, Starlight Express and The Phantom Of The Opera, was awarded a knighthood.

Those becoming dames - the female equivalent of a knight - include Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Aquatic  Centre for the 2012 London Olympics, and Labour Party politician Tessa Jowell, who was Olympics minister until 2010.

Musician Gary Barlow, who organised a Diamond Jubilee concert  for the Queen this month featuring Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie  Wonder and Sir Elton John, was named an Officer of the Order of the  British Empire, or OBE, for his services to entertainment and to  charity.

Sarah Burton, who designed Kate Middleton's dress for her royal  wedding to Prince William last year, received an OBE for services to fashion.

In descending order, the honours are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and  MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Knights are addressed as ''sir'' or ''dame''. Recipients of the other honours have  no title but can put the letters after their names.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone, who inspired thousands to sing with TV shows such as The Choir and assembled the best-selling Military Wives singing group, was awarded an OBE, as was actress and 1970s  heartthrob Jenny Agutter.

Actress and campaigner April Ashley, one of the first Britons to undergo sex-change surgery, was awarded an OBE ''for services to  transgender equality''.

Also receiving an OBE was Jimmy Carlson, a former soldier who  spent 23 years sleeping on the streets before becoming an advocate for the homeless.

The same honour went to Armando Iannucci, the  writer and producer behind expletive-laden British political satire  The Thick of It and White House comedy Veep.   

''I just hope it's not an attempt by the government to stop me,  because that's not going to happen,'' he said.