28 Celebs Who've Been Made a Knight or a Dame

by Allie Gemmill
May 8, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. ET
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Nabbing a knighthood or a damehood is no easy feat. Only a select group of high achievers in a variety of disciplines are chosen each year to receive the highest chivalric honors, the Knight Commander and Dame Commander, respectively. The honorees who received these titles have dedicated their lives to the arts, sciences, government work, humanitarian efforts and beyond. According to Awards Intelligence, "a knighthood or damehood can be presented for all types of different achievement, but usually the person nominated will have made a major contribution to the country at a national or international level; their work and achievements will be viewed as an inspiration to others; and they may have influenced their peers, industry or the nation through their sustained and outstanding commitment to their chosen area." This kind of democratic nomination process, wherein the honor is open to everyone, has allowed some Americans to earn the honor of knight or dame (although there is the caveat that, because they are not British citizens, they can't use "Sir" or "Dame" officially). 

But regardless of your nationality, to be awarded a knighthood or a damehood is a great honor. As one might expect, there's a certain level of notoriety and respect that comes with the title, as well as a kind of public reverence for your work. It's a sign you've achieved a unique kind of greatness that honors your life's work, and that's not too shabby if you ask us. 

While the people receiving the honors aren't always celebrities, we're more likely to hear about who is being honored in a particular year when a celebrity does accept this high honor. This was the case when, in March 2018, Variety reported that former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music. 

A fair amount of famous (frequently British) faces have come before Starr when it comes to getting a knighthood or damehood, but who are they? Keep clicking and see.

1 /28: Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross in 2014
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1/28 :Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie was honored for her humanitarian work in 2014 when she was given an honorary damehood.

2 /28: Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr is made a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire in 2018
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2/28 :Ringo Starr

Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, honored under his birth name, Richard Starkey, was given a knighthood by the Duke of Cambridge in March 2018.

3 /28: Paul McCartney

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3/28 :Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney, a founding member of the Beatles, was honored for his contributions to music in March 1997

4 /28: Elton John

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4/28 :Elton John

Elton John was awarded the knighthood in 1998 for both his contributions to music and his charitable efforts working in AIDS awareness.

5 /28: Michael Caine

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5/28 :Michael Caine

Michael Caine was given the knighthood for his contributions to film in November 2000.

6 /28: Patrick Stewart

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6/28 :Patrick Stewart

Renowned British actor Patrick Stewart (who younger audiences might recognize as Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation or Professor Xavier from the X-Men films) was knighted in 2010 for his services to the arts.

7 /28: Ronald Reagan

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7/28 :Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, who had exited the U.S. presidency just a few months before, received his honorary knighthood in June 1989

8 /28: Judi Dench

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8/28 :Judi Dench

Judi Dench was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1988 for her services to acting, 18 years after she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1970. 

9 /28: Helen Mirren

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9/28 :Helen Mirren

Hellen Mirren famously rejected receiving the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) honor in 1996, but she did accept her damehood in 2003, which Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on her.

10 /28: Joan Collins

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10/28 :Joan Collins

In 2015, Prince Charles bestowed upon actor and humanitarian Joan Collins, best remembered for her role on the 1980s soap opera Dynasty, a damehood for her charitable work.

11 /28: Mick Jagger

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11/28 :Mick Jagger

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was given a knighthood for his services to pop music officially in 2002, but because he was on tour at the time it was announced, Jagger actually picked up his medal and attended the ceremony in 2003.

12 /28: Elizabeth Taylor

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12/28 :Elizabeth Taylor

British-born screen legend Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a damehood for her contributions to acting in 2000

13 /28: Julie Andrews

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13/28 :Julie Andrews

Powerhouse performer Julie Andrews, whom audiences have grown up watching in movie musicals like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, received the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

14 /28: Bill Gates

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14/28 :Bill Gates

Bill Gates is one of the few famous folks of non-British origin who was given an honorary knighthood, the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which he received in 2005.

15 /28: Bono

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15/28 :Bono

Bono was given then honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for both his epic music career and his humanitarian work in 2007.

16 /28: Ben Kingsley

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16/28 :Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley was made a Knight Bachelor in 2002 (the same year he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars) for his services to the dramatic arts. 

17 /28: Angela Lansbury

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17/28 :Angela Lansbury

Murder, She Wrote actor Angela Lansbury was awarded a damehood in 2014 for both her acting work and her charity work.

18 /28: Maggie Smith

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18/28 :Maggie Smith

Smith has received a number of honors from Queen Elizabeth II during her lifetime. She received her damehood in 1990 and, in 2014, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor for her services to the arts.

19 /28: Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland appears on stage prior to the screening of 'The Heiress' in 2006
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19/28 :Olivia de Havilland

Legendary actor Olivia de Havilland, best remembered for her role in Gone With the Wind, was one of the oldest celebrities to have ever received a damehood when she was made a dame in 2017, just a few months before her 101st birthday.

20 /28: Kristin Scott Thomas

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20/28 :Kristin Scott Thomas

The English Patient star Kristin Scott Thomas received a damehood in 2015 for her services to the arts.

21 /28: Sidney Poitier

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21/28 :Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier is one of the very few celebrities of color to have been made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which he received in 1974 for his artistic contributions.

22 /28: Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, arriving at Buckingham Palace, as Laurence receives his Knighthood in 1947
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22/28 :Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier, now a revered actor of the stage and screen, received his knighthood for his services to drama in 1947.

23 /28: Bob Hope

Bob Hope and Dolores Hope during American Movie Makers at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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23/28 :Bob Hope

Bob Hope, an English-born comedian, received a knighthood for his work in the performing arts in 1998

24 /28: Anthony Hopkins

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24/28 :Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins was awarded his knighthood in 1992, just a few years after he portrayed the iconic Dr. Hannibal Lecter in 1990's The Silence of the Lambs.

25 /28: John Hurt

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25/28 :John Hurt

The late John Hurt was knighted at Windsor Castle in 2015 for his services to drama.

26 /28: Roger Moore

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26/28 :Roger Moore

James Bond actor Roger Moore was knighted in 2003 not for his acting, but for his charitable endeavors during his life, including his work as a Goodwill ambassador.

27 /28: Daniel Day-Lewis

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27/28 :Daniel Day-Lewis

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, bestowed the honor of Knight Bachelor of the British Empire on actor Daniel Day-Lewis in 2014.

28 /28: Kenneth Branagh

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28/28 :Kenneth Branagh

Beloved actor Kenneth Branagh, best known for bringing the works of Shakespeare to life on the big screen, was knighted in 2012