Sir Patrick Stewart joins childhood heroes

The actor Sir Patrick Stewart said he was "astonished" to find himself in the company of his childhood heroes Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Alec Guinness in becoming a theatrical knight as he attended Buckingham Palace yesterday.

The Queen is said to be a fan of the star, who has enjoyed a 50-year career in film, television and the theatre, including 16 years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, 178 episodes of Star Trek and three X-Men movies. Sir Patrick said: "The knights of the theatre represented to me not only the pinnacle of the profession but the esteem in which the profession was held. And now to find myself, to my astonishment, in that company is the grandest thing that has professionally happened to me."

Jenson Button, the Formula One driver, was made an MBE; artist Maggi Hambling became a CBE; and Claire Bertschinger, the nurse whose work in the Ethiopian famine inspired Live Aid, was made a dame. Christina Schmid, the widow of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, collected his posthumous George Cross.