Royals No Ma'am! Celebrities Who Turned Down Honors from Queen Elizabeth From John Lennon to John Oliver, famous faces have their reasons for declining royal awards By Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit is a Royals Writer and Reporter at PEOPLE. People Editorial Guidelines Published on December 30, 2020 02:07 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; Ron Howard/Redferns; Dave Hogan/Getty 01 of 15 Michael Sheen Michael Sheen. Lewis Whyld - WPA Pool/Getty After receiving a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2009 for services to drama, the Welsh actor quietly handed back the award in 2017 after looking into the history of the relationship between England and Wales for a lecture. "By the time I had finished writing that lecture...I remember sitting there going, 'Well, I have a choice — I either don't give this lecture and hold on to my OBE, or I give this lecture and I have to give my OBE back,' " Sheen said in a conversation with The Guardian columnist Owen Jones in 2020. 02 of 15 John Lennon John Lennon. Bettmann/ Getty All four of The Beatles were all made Members of the British Empire (MBE) in 1965, but Lennon returned his honor four years later. "I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts," he wrote in a letter. 03 of 15 George Harrison George Harrison. Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Another member of The Beatles rejected being made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 2000 — three years after bandmate Paul McCartney was knighted. 04 of 15 David Bowie David Bowie in 2007. Bryan Bedder/Getty David Bowie turned down two awards: a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003. "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that," he told the Sun in 2003, the same year Mick Jagger was given a knighthood. "I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for. It's not my place to make a judgment on Jagger, it's his decision. But it's just not for me." 05 of 15 Danny Boyle Danny Boyle. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty The famous film director rejected a knighthood in 2013, telling Radio Times, "It's just not me." 06 of 15 Paul Weller Paul Weller. Dave Benett/Getty The musician rejected a CBE in 2006. "Paul was surprised and flattered, but it wasn't really for him," his spokesperson said in a statement. 07 of 15 John Cleese John Cleese. Joshua Sammer/Getty The comic actor declined appointment as CBE in 1996 as well as a life peerage position in 1999. 08 of 15 John Oliver John Oliver. Andrew Toth/FilmMagic "Why on earth would I want that?" the host and comic said on Conan O'Brien's podcast in 2019. "Then I looked up all the people who rejected it. I think the Beatles gave it back in the end." 09 of 15 Ken Loach Ken Loach. LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty The British filmmaker rejected an OBE offered to him "because it's not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who've got it," he told the BBC in 2001. 10 of 15 Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Dave Benett/Getty The comedy duo turned down OBEs, offered to them in 2001. "If I felt I deserved a Damehood, I'd accept it," Saunder told Source magazine. "At the time, we felt that we were being paid very well to have a lot of fun. It didn't seem right somehow. We didn't deserve a pat on the back. It felt a bit fake to stand alongside people who devoted their lives to truly worthy causes." 11 of 15 Alan Rickman Alan Rickman. Mike Marsland/WireImage The late actor turned down a CBE, though he never publicized his reason for the decision. 12 of 15 John Lydon John Lydon. Noam Galai/Getty The Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon — A.K.A. Johnny Rotten — told NPR in 2015: "Oh, they're trying to give me an O.B.E. or an M.B.E. or whatever that is. Nope, not interested." 13 of 15 Roald Dahl Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty The British novelist — known for popular children's books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda — refused to be decorated as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)...reportedly because he wanted to be knighted. 14 of 15 Vanessa Redgrave Vanessa Redgrave. Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty While the actress accepted a CBE in 1967, she declined Damehood in 1999. 15 of 15 C.S. Lewis C.S. Lewis. John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty The author of The Chronicles of Narnia declined a CBE he was to have been awarded in 1952. I feel greatly obliged to the Prime Minister, and so far as my personal feelings are concerned this honour would be highly agreeable," he wrote in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1951. However, he felt many believed that Christianity is "covert anti-Leftist propaganda, and my appearance in the Honours List would of course strengthen their hands. It is therefore better that I should not appear there."