30/12/2020 07:53 GMT | Updated 30/12/2020 14:53 GMT

Michael Sheen Reveals Why He Handed Back His OBE: 'I Realised I'd Be A Hypocrite'

The actor was awarded the honour in the 2009 for his services to drama.

Michael Sheen has revealed he gave back his OBE so he could air his views about the monarchy.

The actor said he did not want to be a “hypocrite” when he gave a Raymond Williams lecture in 2017, which explored the history of his native Wales and its relationship with the British state. 

Michael, who was made an OBE in the 2009 New Year Honours for his services to drama, explained the “crash course” had made him realise he could not both deliver his lecture and hold on to the honour.

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Michael Sheen

Speaking to newspaper columnist Owen Jones on his personal YouTube channel, he said: “In my research to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history. And by the time I’d finished writing that lecture on this laptop that I’m talking to you on right now, I remember sitting there going, ‘Well I have a choice – I either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and I have to give my OBE back’.”

Michael, who is from Port Talbot, said Wales and England’s shared history was still a point of contention for many Welsh people.

He pointed towards the controversy caused by the decision to rename the second Severn crossing the Prince of Wales Bridge in 2018. A petition against the move received more than 30,000 signatures.

“These things have power,” Michael said. “The idea of the Prince of Wales and that being an Englishman and the history of that.

“Why Edward made his son the Prince of Wales (was) because it was part of keeping down the Welsh rebellion. These are things that happened so long ago but these things are resonant.”

Charles, the current Prince of Wales, is due to forfeit the title when he ascends the throne.

Michael suggested it would be a “really meaningful and powerful gesture for that title to no longer be held in the same way as it has before”.


He added that he had decided not to announce his decision to relinquish the honour in 2017 as he feared some people would find it insulting.

He said: “I didn’t mean any disrespect but I just realised I’d be a hypocrite if I said the things I was going to say in the lecture about the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state.”