Colin Firth awarded CBE

 

Hollywood royalty Colin Firth was today awarded a CBE by the Prince of Wales - whose grandfather the actor brought to life on the screen.

King George VI's battle to overcome a stutter was famously portrayed by Firth, who won a string of awards for his moving performance.

Playing the monarch in The King's Speech earned Firth a Bafta, Gold Globe and most notably the Best Actor Oscar, and garnered huge critical acclaim for the film.

The 51-year-old chatted briefly to the prince after the presentation was made in Buckingham Palace's ballroom where the investiture ceremony was held.

But he declined to talk to waiting media before returning to his seat to watch other recipients receive their honours.

It was the sight of Firth emerging from a lake in a dripping wet shirt and britches during the BBC's Pride and Prejudice series that made him an instant heart-throb.

His role as the brooding hero Mr Darcy in 1995 caught the eye of a legion of female fans and film directors.

It was the part that defined him for many years although he tried to distance himself from it, saying it was "just another role".

Firth's parents were academics and as a child he spent time in Africa and America before the family settled in Winchester, Hampshire.

He is also a prominent political campaigner, though he publicly withdrew his support for the Liberal Democrats after the row over tuition fees.

The celebrity has been an demand as an actor since leaving the Drama Centre London where he learned his craft.

He was picked for a succession of television and theatre parts before his portrayal of Robert Lawrence in the TV production Tumbledown earned him a Royal Television Society Best Actor award.

After his groundbreaking role as Mr Darcy in the costume drama other parts followed in quick succession from a typical gentleman in The English Patient to a football-obsessed teacher in the film version of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and an aristocrat in Shakespeare in Love.

Six years after first playing Mr Darcy he took on a character with the same name in the film Bridget Jones's Diary opposite Renee Zellweger.

He revealed another side to his personality when he showed of his vocal cords as banker Harry Bright in the Abba-themed movie musical Mamma Mia! and earned his first Bafta for his portrayal of a suicidal English college professor living in Los Angeles in A Single Man.

But his role as George VI, who battles a speech impediment with the help of Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush, captured the imagination of the movie-going public.

The father-of-three has already been recognised for his work on behalf of his wife's native Italy.

Firth, who married producer Livia Giuggioli in 1997, was made a Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity in 2005.

The actor also has a son from an earlier relationship with actress Meg Tilly.

During the ceremony Sir David Higgins - the man credited with ensuring the London 2012 Olympic venues were built on time and on budget - was knighted by the prince.

Sir David, a quiet, modest Australian, oversaw the enormous construction project during his time as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and left his post in February last year.

During 2011 a host of venues were completed from the velodrome to the main stadium and aquatic centre.

Speaking about the knighthood Sir David said: "It's a fantastic honour, I'm very privileged and I was delighted to see other members of the Olympic Delivery Authority receive honours as well.

"Everything I did was part of a large team and the most encouraging thing is to see what it does for the communities around the Games. I was really focused on regeneration and restoring communities and returning communities to prosperity."

Sir David was previously chief executive of Lend Lease, the construction firm responsible for the Sydney Olympics and the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, and left the ODA to become the chief executive of Network Rail.

Solicitor Mark Stephens, a media specialist partner with law firm Finers Stephens Innocent and a familiar face in television studios as a legal expert was made a CBE.

The lawyer has been described by the Law Society Gazette as, "the patron solicitor of previously lost causes".

In his role as a broadcaster Mr Stephens comments on a wide range of issues from super injunctions to defamation tourism.

In the past he has been involved in a number of high profile cases including the extradition battle of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

His CBE also recognised his role within the arts as he is chairman of the Contemporary Arts Society which develops public collections of contemporary art in the UK.

Mr Stephens said: "We like to think we can spot the geniuses of the future. We put modern, cutting edge work in regional collections across the country."

He added that much of his legal work dealt with human rights issues and that he had been successful in getting his cases heard at the European Court of Human Rights on important points of principle.

The lawyer said the prince enquired if he was involved in the Leveson Inquiry, which the solicitor is not.

Mr Stephens said: "He asked me about the Leveson inquiry and I told him I had won 11 phone hacking cases last week. (I've) kept my clients' profiles pretty low I've felt they've been intruded upon enough."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn