He's played many a king – now Branagh is a knight


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Kenneth Branagh is to follow in the footsteps of some of Britain's finest actors after he was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List prompting him to say: "My heart's fit to burst."

The Belfast-born actor and director, who last year played Sir Laurence Olivier in his film My Week with Marilyn, received the honour for his services to drama and the community of Northern Ireland. "I feel humble, elated and incredibly lucky," he said.

Kate Winslet, who played Ophelia in Branagh's 1996 film adaptation of Hamlet, is to be appointed CBE. The Oscar-winning actress, who became a global star in 1997 after the release of Titanic, was honoured for her services to drama. The 36-year-old said: "I am both surprised and honoured to stand alongside so many men and women who have achieved great things for our country."

Other entertainers honoured included Jenny Agutter, who starred in the 1970 film The Railway Children and was recently in the BBC drama Call the Midwife. She said she was "thrilled and touched" at her OBE.

Gary Barlow also declared himself "absolutely thrilled" to be appointed OBE just days after he organised the Diamond Jubilee concert.

Barlow, who was honoured for his services to the entertainment industry and to charity, said: "Growing up I never dreamt that one day I'd be getting one myself. I enjoy every minute of the work I do, with a lot of it being a reward in itself, so for somebody to decide I should get recognised for that is just amazing."

The 41-year-old musician, who wrote hits including "Patience" and "Back For Good", had also penned the jubilee tribute "Sing" with Andrew Lloyd Webber, which shot into the charts at No 1.

Gareth Malone, who also took part in the jubilee concert celebrations with his Military Wives Choir, was appointed OBE for services to music.

Among the sportsmen honoured was the former England goalkeeper David James. The only black goalkeeper to play for England was appointed MBE for services to football and to charity.

Affectionately nicknamed "Calamity" for several howlers between the sticks, James won 53 caps during a career which continued into his 40s. He cultivated a life outside of football including modelling, art, charity work and journalism.

Despite the honour he talked about how he was "intensely jealous" of the England players who were set to take the field against Sweden last night. He added: "That hunger has kept me going, and it still is."

The cookery writer Mary Berry has been appointed CBE. Her role as a judge on The Great British Bake Off has won her a new generation of fans.

The list also marks the reintroduction of the British Empire Medal, dubbed the "working-class gong", which had been scrapped by John Major. The recipients include the boxer Terry Downes and Geoffrey Hopkinson, for services to beekeeping.

There was a knighthood for Charles Dunstone, the tycoon who founded Carphone Warehouse, for his services to charitable giving.

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