An inspirational cancer sufferer, a controversial scientist, Winston Churchill's grandson and a clutch of Hollywood stars have been honoured on the Queen's Birthday.
There are some unusual additions to this year's thousand-strong honours list. Teenage cancer victim Stephen Sutton received a posthumous MBE in recognition of his extraordinary fundraising efforts, but died before he could receive it. Angelina Jolie, who is American, is made an honorary Dame. And outspoken neuroscientist and animal activist target Professor Colin Blakemore, snubbed for years because of his connections to animal research, has finally been given the nod.
Sir Colin is the only former chief executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC) to have left the post without a knighthood.
Documents leaked to The Sunday Times in 2003 indicated that Sir Colin had deliberately been excluded from the forthcoming New Year's Honours List. Normally it is automatic for an MRC CEO to be knighted, and it led to his threatened resignation as head of the MRC in 2003.
But putting the political controversy behind him today he said: "Life has its ups and downs: this is definitely an up!"
Sir Colin, currently director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London's School of Advanced Study, added: "This is the cream on the cake - final evidence that things have changed right to the top of society.
"In many ways I'm surprised, not least because of the events of 10 years ago. Attitudes have changed enormously over the years and the sort of stance I and others took is now much more recognised and seen much more positively. But it was still difficult to believe that opinions could reverse in this way."
In the 1980s and 1990s, his open support for animal testing made him the target of a terror campaign. One experiment in particular that involved sewing down the eyelids of kittens to study the development of vision in the brain enraged animal activists.
"It was tough in those days," he said. "I was really in the eye of the storm. But giving in would only have made that kind of campaign more effective. That's what they wanted, to silence me."
The honours range from neuroscience to the silver screen. Hollywood stars Jolie, as well as Homeland star Damian Lewis and multi-Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis have all been honoured.
Reflecting on her honorary Damehood, Jolie said: "To receive an honour related to foreign policy means a great deal to me, as it is what I wish to dedicate my working life to." Just this week she co-chaired, with Foreign Secretary William Hague, a global summit in London to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Lewis said he decided to do "the very un-British thing" and accept his OBE. But he said he did not expect Hollywood to be impressed by the award. "I don't think our republican cousins quite understand our honours system or are that bothered about it."
There Will Be Blood star Day-Lewis said he was "entirely amazed" to receive a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Best-selling Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel, who has been made a dame for services to literature, said she saw the honour as "encouragement for the future".
And there was also an MBE for singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews for her services to music, who said it was more for the records she had played on air, than the ones she had made herself. Matthews, formerly the singer of Welsh band Catatonia and now a radio and TV presenter, said it was "incredible" to be recognised for her passion for sharing her love of music.
A veteran eurosceptic, a grandson of Sir Winston Churchill and a former left-wing firebrand turned deputy speaker of the Commons are among political recipients of honours.
Bill Cash said he viewed his knighthood as a recognition of his long fight to uphold Westminster parliamentary sovereignty against the drift of powers towards Brussels. "Raising the question of parliamentary sovereignty was regarded as unhelpful in the 1990s - it is now regarded as essential," he said.
Nicholas Soames, a grandson of the wartime prime minister and friend of the Prince of Wales, who served as minister for agriculture and then defence in the Major administration between 1992 and 1997.
After entering Parliament in 1983 as MP for Crawley, Eton-educated Soames, 66, has represented Mid-Sussex since 1997.
"I am profoundly and deeply honoured and thrilled, not only for me but also for my family," he said.