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Van Morrison, Eddie Redmayne honored by Queen Elizabeth II

EDDIE REDMAYNE. The 'Theory of Everything' star was among those honored by the Queen

EDDIE REDMAYNE.

The 'Theory of Everything' star was among those honored by the Queen

LONDON, United Kingdom – Singer-songwriter Van Morrison was given a knighthood and Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne was made an OBE in Queen Elizabeth II's birthday honors announced Friday, June 12. 

Rugby stars Gareth Edwards and Jonny Wilkinson as well as William Pooley, a British nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, were also honored.

US actor Kevin Spacey, who is ending a 10-year run as artistic director of London's Old Vic theatre, was awarded an honorary knighthood, which he said made him feel like an "adopted son" of Britain.

Two historians who helped discover the remains of 15th-century king Richard III under a car park, Philippa Langley and Louis Ashdown-Hill, received honors as well.

The queen's honors are awarded twice a year and although the focus is often on celebrities, most are ordinary people recognised for work in their communities.

Decided by an independent committee, the awards include knights and dames and various orders of the British empire, whether commander (CBE), officer (OBE) or member (MBE). 

Actors, sports stars honored 

Van Morrison was awarded the highest honor, a knighthood, for services to music and tourism in his native Northern Ireland. 

The 69-year-old, known for the 1967 hit "Brown Eyed Girl", continues to write and perform. 

Redmayne, 33, who won an Oscar this year for playing British scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, was made an OBE. 

Fellow actor Benedict Cumberbatch missed out on an Oscar for The Imitation Game but the Sherlock star gains some compensation with a CBE.

His Twelve Years A Slave co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor was also named a CBE, as was Michael Bond, the creator of the much-loved stories about Paddington Bear.

A British doctor involved in fighting the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, Oliver Johnson, was named an OBE, while Pooley, the 30-year-old nurse who contracted the deadly virus before recovering, was named MBE.

In the world of sport, Welsh rugby legend Edwards was given a knighthood while World Cup winner Wilkinson, who retired last year, was made a CBE.

Former England footballer Frank Lampard was named an OBE, as was cricketer James Anderson, England's record Test wicket-taker, while England women's football captain Casey Stoney was made an MBE.

Just over half (51 percent) of the 1,163 awards went to women, including Zarine Kharas, who founded charity fundraising site JustGiving.com and was made a dame.

Twenty-five-year-old Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project that catalogues women's experiences of sexual harassment, was awarded a British Empire Medal, which rewards a contribution of relatively short duration.

The leader of one of Britain's biggest trade unions, Paul Kenny of the GMB, was given a knighthood, which he said was welcome "recognition of the crucial role trade unions play in society." – Alice Ritchie, AFP/Rappler.com

Eddie Redmayne photo via Jaguar PS/Shutterstock