Philanthropy and charity work, founding non-profit organizations, and winning outstanding awards for their acting and singing careers — for these artists, being their best and helping others is their daily routine and none other than Queen Elizabeth II herself has recognized them with a well-deserved royal honor.
We selected the most extraordinary artists that now officially take part in the British Empire.
1. David Beckham
Besides his notable footballer career, David Beckham is also known for his charity work across the globe. Among others, he’s been an ambassador to UNICEF since 2005 and to the Malaria No More UK since 2007. He received his “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II.
2. Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet is known worldwide for her iconic Titanic role, but she’s proven herself to be more than a one-role actress and has snatched Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Grammy Awards throughout her career. She was also named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009 and in 2012 was appointed “Commander of the Order of the British Empire” for her services to drama.
3. Ed Sheeran
We may know Ed Sheeran as a charismatic British singer, but he also does a lot to help others. He often performs at charitable concerts, he’s an ambassador for a children’s hospice, and he recently launched his own foundation, the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation. That’s why he received his “Member of the Order of the British Empire” (MBE) recognition from Prince Charles.
4. Elton John
Openly battling against AIDS since the late 1980s, sir Elton John used his influence to found the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. For his charitable work, he has several royal honors. In 1995, he was nominated a “Commander of the Order of the British Empire” (CBE), in 1998 he was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2020 he was appointed “Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour” (CH).
After being named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013, Adele received the MBE award from Prince Charles for her services to music. But she didn’t stop there, as she’s now sold over 120 million records, and is one of the world’s best-selling musical artists.
6. Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch is a strong charity supporter, as he donates and raises funds for various institutions, openly stands for LGBT rights, and has a strong political voice in the UK. Because of that, in 2015 he received his CBE honor from the Queen.
7. Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne has won a handful of awards due to his acting roles, but it was after his outstanding performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014), and as the transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl (2015), that he received the most import recognition he could ever receive. In 2015 he was appointed “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” for his services to drama.
8. Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor isn’t just a Hollywood actor, but has also done noticeable charity work. He has been a UNICEF partner since 2004 and together with this organization he has traveled everywhere from Africa and Mongolia, to remote parts of India. In 2013 he received his OBE honor for his services to drama and charity.
9. Catherine Zeta-Jones
A movie star and Michael Douglas’ wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones also supports several charities and causes. She often raises funds for people in need, is an ambassador of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and is one of the members of the Cinema for Peace Foundation. Because of that, in 2010 she was honored with “Commander of the Order of the British Empire” (CBE) by the Monarchy of the United Kingdom.
10. Helena Bonham Carter
British actress Helena Bonham Carter is known for her blockbuster movies and world-famous TV series roles. She impressively won a British Academy Film Award and 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards, and was also nominated for 2 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, 4 Primetime Emmy Awards, and 3 British Academy Television Awards. There’s no doubt she deserved her CBE honor.
11. Helen Mirren
You can call her Dame Helen Mirren, as the actress has already received her title as “Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.” In fact, a “Dame” is the female version of a Knight, and Helen Mirren obtained her honor for her multiple acting successes.
12. Bill Gates
Co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men on earth, Bill Gates also uses his money to help others in every way he can. Gates and his wife founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and have given and funded several organizations and scientific research programs since then. Because of that, he was made an “Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire” (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
13. The 4 members of The Beatles
In 1965, after their explosive success, Queen Elizabeth II honored the Beatles as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Later on, both Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney received their royal Knight Bachelor.
There’s no denying that Bono’s charitable and political side speaks as loud as his passion for music. He’s a philanthropist and activist that co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red to help Africa. He has an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for both his music and his humanitarian work.
15. Angelina Jolie
Although Angelina Jolie isn’t British, her astonishing philanthropy allowed her to win an insignia of her honorary damehood by Queen Elizabeth II. She is an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, participates in political and economic forums around the globe, and advocates for woman’s rights.
What do you do to make the world a better place?