New Year Honours 2022: Vanessa Redgrave made a dame after rejecting the honour in 1999 because of Tony Blair

‘I could not and would not accept any honour from Mr Blair,’ she said about her previous refusal

Annabel Nugent
Friday 31 December 2021 22:30
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Vanessa Redgrave has been made a dame in the New Years Honours.

The actor was among the public figures to be recognised in the 2022 New Years Honours, the complete list of which was announced tonight (31 December).

The 84-year-old was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967. CBE is the highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, followed by OBE and then MBE.

In 1999, the actor previously rejected an offer of a damehood. In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Redgrave said her declining of the honour had nothing to do with the British royal family.

She said her decision was instead driven by former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his entry into the Iraq War.

“I’m not against the royal family; they do many good things and the royal family in England is one of the red lines that can save England at certain moments,” she said. “[But] it isn’t the royal family or the queen who offers the honour, it’s the government of the day.

“So I would never say I refused an honour from the queen. But I could not and would not accept any honour from Mr Blair, when he has taken our country, and so many people, to war on the basis of a lie.”

Redgrave has been feted with a number of accolades across her illustrious career, which spans five decades.

Vanessa Redgrave and Albert Finney in 2002’s ‘The Gatherine Storm’

The London-born actor first rose to prominence playing Rosalind in a 1961 RSC production of As You Like It.

She went on to win the 1984 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival for The Aspern Papers, as well as the 2003 Tony Award for the revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night.

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On screen, Redgrave earned six Oscar nominations for Isadora (1967), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Bostonians (1984) and Howard’s End (1992). She won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1977 drama Julia, which she starred in opposite Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep.

Redgrave is the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.

Her birth on 30 January was announced on stage by Laurence Olivier during a production of Hamlet at the London Old Vic theatre, in which Michael Redgrave played Laertes.

Her father received an Oscar nomination for his role in 1947’s Mourning Becomes Electra. He was also appointed a CBE in 1952 and was later knighted in 1959.

Redgrave is also involved in political activism. In 1995, Redgrave was elected to serve as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador. She also used her salary from Mary, Queen of Scots to build a nursery school near her home in west London.

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