Lewis Hamilton is now a “Sir” as well as a seven-time Formula One champion.
Hamilton received a knighthood Wednesday as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s honours list, which also recognized British performers, politicians, public servants and people outside the limelight who worked to defeat the coronavirus and its devastating impacts.
Hamilton, who secured his seventh F1 title last month to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, has said his recent success was partly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The 35-year-old race car driver took the knee on the grid and wore anti-racism slogans during the season.
Supporters have suggested Hamilton would have been knighted sooner if not for his tax status. Hamilton’s knighthood was awarded in the “overseas” section of the honours list because he lives in low-tax Monaco.
His tax affairs made news in 2017 when the Paradise Papers leak showed he avoided paying more than $4 million US in taxes on a private jet registered in the Isle of Man, a tax haven.
Motorsport U.K. Chairman David Richards said Hamilton’s tax status had been “totally misunderstood” and that the racing champion was among the 5,000 highest taxpayers in the U.K.
WATCH | Hamilton wins record-breaking 92nd race:
In other honours, veteran comic actress Sheila Hancock was made a dame, the female equivalent of a knight, in recognition of her six-decade career. Acclaimed makeup artist Pat McGrath, dubbed the “most influential makeup artist in the world” by Vogue, also received a damehood.
There was a knighthood for cinematographer Roger Deakins, a 15-time Academy Award nominee who has won Oscars for “Blade Runner 2049” and “1917.”
Veteran footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers were made Members of the Order of the British Empire, or MBEs, after a long-running campaign to ensure every surviving member of the team that won England the 1966 World Cup receives an honour.
The queen’s honours are awarded twice a year, in late December and in June, when the monarch’s birthday is observed. The awards acknowledge hundreds of people for services to community or British national life. Recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.
In descending order, the main honours are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE. Knights are addressed as “sir” or “dame,” followed by their name. Recipients of the other honours have no title, but they can put the letters after their names.
There is growing criticism of the honours’ evocation of the British Empire, the legacy of which has been debated anew amid campaigns against racism and colonialism around the world.
The education spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, Kate Green, who has an OBE, recently called the titles of the honours “offensive and divisive.”
The British government said there are no plans to change the titles.