Queen Elizabeth's annual awards are given to celebs "championing diversity"

By Nicholas White
Updated December 31, 2007 09:00 PM
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Credit: PA Photos/Landov

Ian McKellen and Kylie Minogue are among those on this year’s list of U.K. Honors, named annually by Queen Elizabeth II.

McKellen, 68, who is already a knight, was named a Companion of Honor – the highest royal honor in Britain. It is a title bestowed on 65 living people.

The Queen said the Lord of the Rings star was chosen for his “outstanding achievements as an actor and also for his work in championing the causes of diversity.”

McKellen, who is gay, said on his Web site, “I am honored to join an Order which includes such distinguished practitioners in the arts. It is particularly pleasing that ‘equality’ is included in my citation.”

Although she’s Australian, singer/actress Minogue, 39, a breast cancer survivor, was named an Officer of the British Empire.

“I feel deeply touched to be acknowledged by the U.K., my adopted home, in this way,” Minogue told Britain’s Sky News. “I am almost as surprised as I am honored to be awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen.”

Also being honored as an OBE is Richard Griffiths, known for playing Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films.