Royals J.K. Rowling Receives a Rare Honor From Prince William at Buckingham Palace J.K. Rowling was awarded rare distinction by the royal family — so extraordinary that there are only 65 others currently holding the title By Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit Stephanie Petit is a Royals Writer/Reporter at PEOPLE. She has been with the brand since 2016 after graduating from The College of New Jersey and holding previous positions at Seventeen, CBS Radio and more. Follow the proud dog mom on Twitter at @stephpetit_ for the latest on Queen Elizabeth's corgis. People Editorial Guidelines Published on December 12, 2017 02:54 PM Share Tweet Pin Email J.K. Rowling was awarded a rare distinction by the royal family — so extraordinary that there are only 64 other people currently holding the title. The Harry Potter author, 52, was made a Companion of Honor by Prince William at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday for her contributions to literature and philanthropy. “To be included in the distinguished and diversely talented company of the other Companions of Honour, especially as a female writer, is a particular privilege,” Rowling said in a statement shared by the royals’ Twitter. The Order of the Companions of Honor was founded in 1917 by George V and is given to those who have made a major contribution in their field, according to the royal family’s website. There are only 65 members at any one time, and current members include Maggie Smith (who also has a Harry Potter connection — she played Professor Minerva McGonagall in the film series based on Rowling’s books) and Stephen Hawking. ANDREW MATTHEWS/AFP/Getty Images Twenty years after he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Paul McCartney is also being honored with a Companion of Honor award for services to music, according to the Queen’s Birthday Honors List this year. However, he has not formally received the distinction yet. RELATED VIDEO: No Sword This Time! Ed Sheeran Honored by Prince Charles at the Palace — Without a Scratch Last week, Ed Sheeran received an MBE, signifying he’s a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to music and charity. Prince Charles bestowed the honor on behalf of his mother. However, he did make a major faux pas. Yui Mok/PA Wire “[I] shook the prince’s hand and talked to him for a little bit,” Sheeran, 26, told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford during a Friday interview on the Today show. “Apparently, I did a big faux pas, though. I shook his hand and then grabbed it and you’re not meant to do that.” A photo from the meeting showed a smiling Sheeran doing just that. But Charles, 69, didn’t seem to mind much, as he gave the singer a smile back. Because Sheeran was not made a “Sir” (or knight), the ceremony did not involve the traditional sword tap on the shoulder. Despite his mistake, the day was extra special for Sheeran, who revealed that his grandfather, who died four years ago, was a big fan of the royal family. “Do you know what I love, my grandfather was a massive royalist, he had all the commemorative plates and stuff, and he died on this day four years ago, so it’s actually quite a nice full circle thing, I guess he’d be pretty proud,” he told reporters after the event.