Michael Palin and Alastair Cook knighted and Twiggy made a dame

Related Story: England great Alastair Cook retires from international cricket

Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook, 1960s model Twiggy and Monty Python star Michael Palin are among those being recognised in the United Kingdom's New Year's Honours List.

Key points:

  • Cook's award was described as a fitting tribute to his leadership on and off the sporting field
  • Twiggy said the award was wonderful and hard to keep secret
  • Palin was recognised for contributions to travel, culture and geography

Twiggy, a model who shot to stardom during the Beatles era, will become a dame while Palin, who has gone on to become an acclaimed travel documentary maker, receives a knighthood.

A knighthood was also given to Cook, 34, who retired from international cricket this year and was England's most-capped test player and record Test run scorer.

He becomes the eleventh Englishman to be knighted for services to cricket.

"It's a fitting tribute to a man who has led with distinction on and off the pitch ever since he made his England debut," England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves said.

A woman in sunglasses smiles as she looks past the camera.

Twiggy, whose modelling career lasted for decades, burst on the London Mod scene as one of the original "It" girls.

She earned worldwide fame by 17 and went on to a career in theatre and films.

"It's wonderful, but it makes me giggle," said Twiggy, 69, whose real name is Lesley Lawson.

"The hardest thing has been keeping it a secret."

Palin's knighthood recognised his contribution to travel, culture and geography.

He said the news had not sunk in yet but noted: "I have been a knight before, in Python films. I have been several knights, including Sir Galahad".

"I don't think it will (sink in) until I see the envelopes addressing me as Sir Michael Palin," the 75-year-old said.

The list released on Friday (local time) also named 43 people who responded quickly to the extremist attacks in Manchester and London in 2017.

Also being honoured are Jim Carter, who played the acerbic Mr Carson in Downton Abbey, filmmaker Christopher Nolan, director of Inception and Dunkirk, and best-selling author Philip Pullman, creator of the Dark Materials trilogy.

Divers Joshua Bratchley, Lance Corporal Connor Roe and Vernon Unsworth will be made Members of the Order of the British Empire for their roles in the risky Thai cave rescue last summer.

A head and shoulders shot of Vernon Unsworth wearing a suit jacket and tie.

Four other British cave divers will receive civilian gallantry awards for their roles in the thrilling rescue of 12 boys and their coach, who were trapped in the cave for more than two weeks.

Richard Stanton and John Volanthen, the first to reach the stranded children and their coach, have been awarded the George Medal, while Christopher Jewell and Jason Mallinson received the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

The New Year's honours have been awarded since Queen Victoria's reign in the 19th century.

They aim to recognise not just well-known figures but those who have contributed to national life through often selfless and unsung contributions over many years.

The process starts with nominations from the public, which are refined by committees and sent to the prime minister before the various honours are bestowed by Queen Elizabeth or senior royals.

The biannual honours list is released on the Queen's official birthday in June and at the end of each year.


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