British artist David Hockney has been appointed a member of the Order of Merit by the Queen - despite turning down a knighthood in 1990.
The Order of Merit is presented to high achievers in the arts, learning, literature, science and other areas such as public service. Hockney , 74, has said he turned down the chance to become a sir because he “does not care for a fuss”. “I don’t value prizes of any sort. I value my friends,” he said.
The order, created by King Edward VII in 1902, is restricted to 24 members and rare additional foreign recipients.
The Order of Merit does not come with a title but members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads “For Merit”.
When a member dies the badge is returned to the Queen, who receives the next-of-kin personally. In 2003, Hockney told Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus paper that prizes “of any sort are a bit suspect”.
He said had turned a knighthood down because, at the time, he had been living in the US and “did not think it was for me but I don’t have strong feelings about the honours system”.
He was speaking after information about people who had turned down honours was leaked to the Sunday Times.
Back in September, he told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme he had turned down a request to paint the Queen because he was “very busy”.
He said she would have made “a terrific subject” but that he preferred to paint people he knew.