Formula One star Lewis Hamilton receives knighthood in New Year honours list

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in a New Year honours list which predominantly celebrates hundreds of people for their work in the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were doubts whether Hamilton, 35, who also surpassed Schumacher’s record of grand prix victories in 2020, would be knighted given he lives in Monaco.

However, it was reported that the prime minister, Boris Johnson, had personally intervened to ensure Hamilton would be rewarded for his sporting achievements.

Hamilton, who has been campaigning tirelessly around the Black Lives Matter movement, said he attributes his success to this cause.

He also took the knee on the grid and wore anti-racism slogans during the motorsports season.

Stefano Domenicali, the new CEO of F1, who praised him as a “true giant of our sport”.

He added: “His influence is huge both in and out of a car.

“What he has achieved is phenomenal with still more to come. All of us at Formula 1 congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition of his achievements and look forward to seeing more of his brilliance in 2021.”

In recent years, the honours system has been criticised as being too closely-linked to the UK's colonial past, with titles linked to the Order of the British Empire.

In 2003, Benjamin Zephaniah turned down an OBE saying he was "profoundly anti-empire".

In 2019, George The Poet shared a similar sentiment, revealing he had turned down an MBE because of the "pure evil" of the British Empire and "the colonial trauma inflicted on the children of Africa".

Other notable recognitions

Meanwhile, former Leeds Rhinos player Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019, has been awarded an MBE for services to the sport and to MND awareness.

Burrow said: “2020 has taught us all to appreciate the gifts we have and it is my honour and privilege to accept this award on behalf of all the MND community."

Musician, Craig David has been awarded an MBE for services to music.

The singer and rapper found overnight fame with the release of his debut album Born To Do It in 2000.

Architect Sir David Chipperfield, whose work includes the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate, joins the elite Companions of Honour.

Royal Navy nurse Andrew Cooper, who was involved in the Covid testing of sailors on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and worked in an NHS hospital's emergency department this year, becomes an Associate of the Royal Red Cross.

Actress Sheila Hancock, who made her name in the West End before becoming a dominating British TV screens, has been made a dame.

Commenting on the award, Hancock joked: "I've never felt myself this sort of person. It just doesn't happen to people like me. I feel I may be lowering the tone. I feel slightly miscast, let's put it that way."

Former EastEnders actress Nina Wadia, who rose to fame in sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, is made an OBE for her services to entertainment and charity.

Wadia has worked with charities including Barnardo's, in tribute to her father who was an orphan in India; and a kidney illness research charity in memory of her mother, who died with kidney failure.

Among the political honours are

former attorney general Geoffrey Cox who will receive a knighthood and a damehood for Labour MP Angela Eagle, a former pensions minister.

Lynne Owens, head of the National Crime Agency, is among the other dames. Wendy Williams, a former inspector of constabulary has been made a CBE.

Also included in the list of honours is Kim Leadbeater, sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, who has been recognised for her work fighting social isolation.

She said: "I would have much preferred for my sister to be here carrying on the work she started on loneliness and so much else, but while this is sadly a bittersweet moment for our family, I know that Jo would be extremely proud."

The youngest recipient is 20-year-old Samah Khalil, the Youth Mayor of Oldham, who receives a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Overall, 1,239 people are on the main list issued by the Cabinet Office, with 49% being women and 14% from an ethnic minority background. Some 803 people (65%) are recognised for work in the community.