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Elton John Celebrated With Britain's Exclusive Highest Honor
GRAMMY-winning music legend Elton John is being celebrated by his native Britain for his incomparable contributions to music, philanthropy and culture with the exclusive title of the Order of the Companions of Honor.
"I'm humbled and honoured to be among such highly esteemed company in receiving the Companion of Honour. 2019 has turned out to be a truly wonderful year for me and I feel extraordinarily blessed," the enduring "Rocket Man" wrote on Twitter.
The news comes with the recently released 2020 Honours List, in which Queen Elizabeth celebrates 1,097 new rankings of dames and knights each year. GRAMMMY winners Olivia Newton-John and Billy Ocean, along with Roger Taylor of Queen, and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol are also among the other musical artists on the list of high-level contributors to British society with several different ranks.
Australian-British singer/actress Newton-John "was made a dame for services to charity, cancer research and entertainment," as noted by The Guardian. Per Billboard, she is fighting breast cancer for the third time and has worked for years to support cancer research and funding with various philanthropic efforts, including the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne.
"I am extremely excited, honoured and grateful beyond words to be included with such an esteemed group of women who have received this distinguished award before me," the "Grease" star said via Billboard. "As a girl born in Cambridge, I am very proud of my British ancestry and so appreciative to be recognised in this way by the United Kingdom."
Other powerful names in entertainment, like Oscar-winning British film directors Steve McQueen ("12 Years A Slave," "Widows") and Sam Mendes ("American Beauty," "Skyfall"). But as the Guardian points out, the majority of the list (72% this year) are made up of names we are less familiar with, yet nevertheless have dedicated themselves to public service. Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of England's NHS, is one of these people, who has spent 31 years fighting for better public health funding.
According to BBC News, the honours list is published twice per year—during the New Year and on the Queen's birthday—and are informally approved by the Queen after nominees are approved by committees of "independent experts" divided by subject matter. "The system is overseen by the Cabinet Office Honours and Appointments Secretariat, and British nationals or citizens of the 15 Commonwealth realms can be nominated," BBC explains. Foreigners can receive honorary honours.
John was first knighted back in 1998—when he received his "Sir" title—and now joins a group of just 65 as a Companion of Honour. Fellow knighted GRAMMY winner Paul McCartney is also among this group, whose limit of 65 members at any given time includes the royal monarch himself.
He also received France's highest civilian honor, the Légion d'Honneur, earlier this year. The Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has organizations in both the U.K. and U.S., has raised over $400 million towards money to support HIV/AIDS research and prevention since 1992.
One of 2019's biggest music biopics, "Rocketman," highlighted the personal struggles of low self-esteem, toxic relationships and drug addiction John faced while bringing joy to many with his charismatic stage persona and groundbreaking blend of folk, pop and glam rock.
Kicking off in 2018, his massive farewell tour, appropriately titled Farewell Yellow Brick Road, has seen him bringing his joyful catalog of music to his countless fans around the world, with dates extending into 2020.