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Snubbed: LS Lowry Heads List Of Artists Who Turned Down Birthday Honours From The Queen

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Queen Victoria and her government have been turned by several cultural icons
Queen Victoria and her government have been turned by several cultural icons

LS Lowry heads a list 277 rebels who refused to accept honours from the Queen, a newly released government list has revealed.

The painter refused honours 5 times including an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a knighthood in 1968.

Other cultural figures to have snubbed her Majesty between the period of 1951 and 1998 include Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, the novelist Aldous Huxley and the sculptor Henry Moore.

The new list, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the people who turned down recognition in the annual Birthday Honours list during the period and have since died. Normally when people refuse an honour it is only made public if they announce it themselves.

Instead, the information has been released as senior civil servants gather to debate whether ex-Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin should be stripped of his knighthood following the bank's collapse.

While the list contains a number of surprising 'quiet rebels', not all cultural figures have chosen to turn down New Year's honours privately.

In 2003 poet Benjamin Zephaniah wrote a column in the Guardian explaining why he was refusing to accept an OBE.

"No way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire," he declared.

In the same year JG Ballard, who wrote Empire of the Sun, turned down a CBE for "services to literature" declaring: "I am opposed to the honours system. The whole thing is a preposterous charade.

"Thousands of medals are given out in the name of a non-existent empire. It makes us look like a laughing stock and encourages deference to the Crown.

"I think it is exploited by politicians and always has been. Half the honours are given to people in the armed forces and civil service as a way of keeping their loyalty. I can't take it seriously."

Other people, most famously Sir Alfred Hitchcock, rebelled but changed their mind in later life. The director turned down a CBE in 1962, but accepted a knighthood from the Queen in 1980, shortly before he died.

See a gallery of all of the Birthday Honours rebels:

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