FILM director Alfred Hitchcock and author Roald Dahl are among hundreds of people who turned down honours from the Queen, according to official government records released today.
Painters Francis Bacon and LS Lowry, sculptor Henry Moore and novelist Aldous Huxley are also named in the list published by the Cabinet Office, alongside artist Lucien Freud. The document, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, names a total of 277 individuals who refused prestigious accolades between 1951 and 1999 and have since died. The Cabinet Office was ordered to release the information by the The Information Commissioner’s Office.
It is believed to be the first official confirmation that hundreds of people have snubbed OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods in the annual New Year or Birthday Honours list. News of people refusing an honour normally only comes to light if they volunteer the information themselves or reports are leaked.
According to the list, Hitchcock turned down a chance of a CBE in 1962, but went on to accept a knighthood from the Queen four months before his death in 1980. Lowry turned down more honours than anybody else, with a total of five, including an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a knighthood in 1968.
Bacon turned down a CBE in 1960, while Freud refused the honour in the 1977 New Year’s Honours list.
Dahl, who rejected an OBE in the 1986 New Year’s Honours, was among a number of writers who snubbed the accolade including Chronicles of Narnia author CS Lewis, who turned down a CBE in 1952.
The publication of the list comes as senior civil servants are due to decide whether ex-Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin should be stripped of his knighthood for “services to banking”.
In the past a number of famous people have rejected or returned honours bestowed upon them by the monarch, including Beatles legend John Lennon, who returned his MBE in 1969.
Former Edinburgh Labour Lord Provost Eric Milligan famously refused a CBE from Tory Prime Minister John Major in 1994 –then accepted an honour from the French Government the following year. The then convener of Lothian Regional Council said at the time: “The only thing I would accept from the Conservatives is their resignation.”