The British policeman killed while defending parliament during a terror attack was yesterday honoured by Queen Elizabeth II, alongside Paul McCartney, J K Rowling and Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland.
Keith Palmer, 48, who was stabbed to death by Khalid Masood following his rampage on Westminster Bridge on March 22, received a posthumous George Medal for bravery in the monarch’s annual birthday honours list.
“Keith acted that day with no thought for his own safety... He paid the ultimate price for his selfless actions,” said London police chief Cressida Dick.
Among the other recipients of honours were singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran; a pensioner who tried to save murdered lawmaker Jo Cox; and the last surviving crew member of the World War II Dambuster raids.
Beatles star McCartney and Harry Potter author Rowling were made Companions of Honour, an award for making a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government. The rare order has a maximum of 65 members.
McCartney, who turns 75 on Sunday, called the award “colossal” and a “huge honour”. CHs were also awarded to designer and restauranteur Terence Conran; conductor Mark Elder, cookery writer Delia Smith, Beryl Grey — the first English ballerina to guest with the Kirov and Bolshoi ballets — and John Sulston, who won the 2002 Nobel Medicine Prize for his gene research.
De Havilland, regarded as the last great star of Hollywood’s golden age and the oldest living Oscar winner, was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) — the female equivalent of a knighthood.
The DBE ranks above commander (CBE), officer (OBE) and member (MBE) in Britain’s main chivalry order.
The 100-year-old US star, who was born to British parents, starred in the 1939 classic Gone With The Wind alongside Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
De Havilland said she was “extremely proud”, adding: “To receive this honour as my 101st birthday approaches is the most gratifying of birthday presents.”
Sheeran, whose latest record Divide is the fastest-selling album by a male artist ever in Britain, was made an MBE.
Veteran Scottish comedian Billy Connolly was made a knight bachelor for services to entertainment.
“I am a little embarrassed but deep within me, I’m very pleased,” he said. Joking about being called Sir Lancelot instead, he added: “Sir Billy doesn’t quite have the same ring.”
Leonard Blavatnik, the richest single man in Britain, was also knighted for his philanthropy.
Oscar-nominated actress Julie Walters and Absolutely Fabulous comedy actress June Whitfield were made DBEs.
There were CBEs for illustrator Raymond Briggs, whose 1978 story The Snowman remains a Christmas favourite, and for former special forces soldier turned Bravo Two Zero author Andy McNab, for his recent services to spreading adult literacy.
Britain’s last surviving Dambuster, 95-year-old George Johnny Johnson, received the MBE after 235,000 people signed a petition calling for his wartime service to be recognised.
The bomb aimer was part of an air force squadron which conducted crucial bombing raids on dams in a bid to damage Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland.
“It is amazing the people have taken so much interest. I have to say I feel honoured that they took that trouble,” he said.
In the gallantry awards, retired major Dominic Troulan received the George Cross for helping to save around 200 people during the Westgate Mall terror siege in Nairobi in 2013.
The GC is Britain’s highest honour for gallantry not in the face of the enemy and he is the first civilian recipient in 41 years.
The 54-year-old Troulan, who carried hostages, including a baby, out of the mall in 12 separate trips, described it as “one of the hardest six hours of my life”. Though “overawed” by the honour, he said he had “never really got over” the “absolute carnage” he saw.
Bernard Kenny, a 78-year-old miner who was stabbed as he tried to stop the murder of Jo Cox last June, received the George Medal. He said he was “honoured” to receive the award.
In total, 1,109 people received awards, three-quarters of whom undertook outstanding work in their communities.
Five guardsmen were carried away from the Queen’s birthday celebrations on stretchers after fainting at Horse Guards Parade as temperatures soared.
Dressed in his full uniform, including a bearskin, one soldier fell forward out of his formation as the mercury hit 25C in nearby St James’s Park during Trooping the Colour yesterday.
As the band marched towards his position, the guardsman in the second row collapsed to his knees before landing face down with his hands to his side.
His colleagues maintained position as the ceremony to mark the Queen’s birthday continued around him. Three soldiers then walked to his aid.
One removed his bearskin before the guardsman was lifted on to a stretcher one minute and 17 seconds after he fainted.
At least four other guardsmen at the event are believed to have fallen victims to the higher-than-average temperatures yesterday, also fainting.
An Army spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that during the Queen’s birthday parade today a small number of soldiers fainted.
“It is an extremely hot day and all were removed from the Parade and checked by medical staff where they were hydrated.”
According to the Met Office temperatures in London will hit a sizzling 28C and reach highs of 32C today.
Spokesman Graham Madge told the Standard: “Over the next few days it will be clear, bright, maybe a little bit of cloud here or there but not too much and that’s probably not going to deliver any significant rain.
“We’re expecting highs of 30C on Sunday and then on Monday we may see temperatures climb even further.”
He added: “Tuesday may see those temperatures climb even higher, but what we’re awaiting is the eventual break down of this [warm air] system and if that does happen it could be with quite a stormy end.”
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