By Michael Holden
LONDON – Britain recognised the scientists and medical chiefs at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in Queen Elizabeth’s annual New Year’s honours list, while James Bond actor Daniel Craig was given the same award as his famous onscreen character.
Craig, who bowed out from playing the fictional British spy after five outings following the release of “No Time to Die” this year, was made a Companion in The Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film.
Bond was also a CMG, so the honour means Craig has now matched all his titles, having been made an honorary Commander in the Royal Navy in September.
There were also major honours for the high-profile officials and others involved in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
The chief medical officers for England, Scotland and Wales – Chris Whitty, Gregor Smith and Frank Atherton – were given knighthoods. There were also honours for the deputy medical officers for England, with Jonathan Van-Tam knighted and Jenny Harries made a dame.
The government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, who had previously been knighted, was made a Knight Commander Of The Order Of The Bath.
There were also awards for those involved in producing vaccines including Pfizer Chief Development Officer Rod MacKenzie, Sean Marett, the chief business and commercial officer at BioNTech, and Melanie Ivarsson, the chief development officer at Moderna.
Cyclist Jason Kenny, who achieved his seventh gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games, more than any other Briton has won, was also knighted. His wife Laura, who is the nation’s most successful female Olympic athlete and became the first to win gold at three successive Games, received a damehood.
Among the 78 Olympian and Paralympians to be included in the list were gold medal winners swimmer Adam Peaty and diver Tom Daley, who received OBEs.
Emma Raducanu, who stunned the tennis world by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title with victory in the U.S. Open, was another sporting figure to be honoured with an MBE.
Songwriter Bernie Taupin, best known for his collaborations with Elton John including his 1997 reworking of “Candle in the Wind” that John sang at the funeral of Princess Diana, was awarded a CBE.
There were also damehoods for veteran actresses Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave for their services to drama, entertainment and charity.
The New Year’s honours have been awarded since Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century and aim to recognise not just well-known figures but people who have contributed to national life through often unsung work over many years.
“These recipients have inspired and entertained us and given so much to their communities in the UK or in many cases around the world,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.