Queen Elizabeth, in her last honours, remembered John Williams

Queen Elizabeth, in her last honours, remembered John Williams


norman lebrecht

September 24, 2022

The Star Wars composer John Williams was given an honorary knighthood in Her Majesty’s final awards list.

He is listed as KBE, a Knight of the British Empire.

Williams, 90, cannot use the title ‘Sir’ as he is a foreign national.


  • Cracker McWhitey says:

    Excellent. He’s America’s greatest living composer. By far.

  • fierywoman says:

    Asking for a friend … so is the American wife of a British national Sir allowed to used the title “Lady”?

    • Elizabeth Owen says:


      • Del Boy says:

        Incorrect. Any wife of a british national with a Knighthood (there are many differnt sorts, not just KBE’s) is automatically Lady (surname). She carries the courtesy title from her British husband.

        This does not apply where the title holder himself is not a British subject – as with Williams. he is styled John Williams KBE, as with Barenboim, Muti etc.

        Thus Simon Rattle’s wife, despite being Czech (?) is Lady Rattle.

        • Joel Kemelhor says:

          Nationality was not an issue when Sir Alec Guinness noted that, being knighted, he could with impunity remind his wife to “act like a lady.”

        • Una says:

          The mezzo, Ann Murray, was made a Dame along with Felicity Lott, but Ann is Irish, and so she is Ann Murray DBE whereas it’s Dame Felicity Lott, both deservedly for their wonderful work together and services to British music.

  • MER says:

    After hearing the too mournful news of her passing, I was practicing the piano, and Here, There and Everywhere by four lads she met seemed to fit Queen Elizabeth, interpreting in the larger sense of the song being about her and Great Britain.

  • Unvaccinated says:

    There’s absolutely nothing worse and sickening when somebody with a complete lack of talent,- the queen, riding off on the talent of somebody else. Apparently 12 million to pay off the poor woman involved in the Epstein filth. You should be sick to the pit of your stomach.

    • trumpetherald says:

      Unvaccinated…..Says it all.Actually,the admin should remove this filth from this page.You who wrote this disgusting comment,you should be sick to the pit of your stomach.

      • Alan says:

        The comment re: Andrew is factually correct. And you’re advocating restriction on freedom of expression. How very noble.

        Her talents at being queen I’ll leave to someone who cares to discuss. As a parent she had a shocker.

    • Matias says:

      I find it hard to believe that “A lady with a complete lack of talent” would still be head of state of countries on the other side of the World after 70 years.

      If they became republics tomorrow, it would still be a remarkable achievement.

      Heads of state with considerably less talent and stature are not hard to find.

      • lamed says:

        errr, she didn’t exactly have competition!

        1) she was born into it, so no achievement on her part, all the effort was due to her parents one fortuitous night

        2) by luck her uncle was horny for an American divorcée so her daddy got the job, so she inherited it, again, not much effort on her part, she just had to wait for her daddy to drop dead

        3) then it was monarch tenure for the rest of her life

        4) and she kept the job from her 73 year old son until her last dying breath

        basically, she hit the employment lottery at every stage of her life

        And we are supposed to think she is some brilliant world “leader”???


        • IC225 says:

          Thank you for the sophistication of your constitutional insights. You sound both erudite and charming.

        • Matias says:

          In your haste to find something to sneer at, I think you missed the point.

          The fact remains, countries a long way from the UK, and quite a few in between, saw fit to retain her as their head of state.

    • Mick says:

      12 million must be extremely soothing.

    • Maria says:

      Disgusting comment, and so easy to hide behind a really stupid anonymous name as well.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      She wasn’t utterly lacking in talent.

      She did play the piano at some level, having taken lessons as a girl as did her sister, and sang also.


  • Luca says:

    Why give a title if it can’t be used? King Charles should change this.

    • IC225 says:

      It can be used. He merely has to take British citizenship, as many other eminent musicians (such as Andras Schiff and Georg Solti) have done before him. Very few countries allow their nationals to use foreign titles but the honour, nonetheless, is just as great.

    • Maria says:

      So, write and ask him then!!! The honour is there regardless just as importantly, if not more so as these people have contributed as a citizen of another country, to the musical – or other life – of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, and so much appreciated. Why Terry Wogan was Sir Terry Wogan from the start as he was a British Citizen, made his home here in England,even though as Irish as they come in accent, upbringing and faith.

  • lamed says:

    “Williams, 90, cannot use the title ‘Sir’ as he is a foreign national.”

    Well then, he should get on the fast lane to acquire British citizenship à la Meghan.

    • Maria says:

      No, but he can sign his name with KBE after his name, and everyone knows that is a Knighthood by someone who isn’t British but given so much to the life of Britain. Up to him if he wants to become a British Citizen at 90. Has its pros and cons, often having to give up your original nationality and its perks.

  • Howard L. says:

    While I’m here, I’m reminded of a clip of a British society writer (?) t)chatting with talk show host Jack Paar in the 60’s. She discussed a concert with music of William Walton, whose music she thought was boring and that Her Majesty herself booed politely from her box. Thanks to both for confirming it wasn’t just me and thinking of one of our artists. Now Walton has Sir in front of his name. How did that happen?

    • Iain says:

      Knighthoods are decided by the Cabinet Office, not the monarch.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        They are proposed by the Cabinet Office and require the monarch’s approval.

        • Del Boy says:

          Neither of you is correct. THey are recommended by all sorts of sources – cabinet office, prime ministers office, personal appointment of the monarch him(her)self etc…they are drawn from a wide range of sources into a centralised list for approval by the palace.

          • Maria says:

            Same difference! Certainly not the choosing of the Cabinet and do need to have the now King’s approval.

        • Iain says:

          And how often is approval refused?

          • Thomas M. says:

            James Hacker:
            When did a civil servant last refuse an honour?

            Bernard Woolley:
            Well I think there was somebody in the Treasury that refused a Knighthood.

            James Hacker:
            Good God. When?

            Bernard Woolley:
            I think it was 1496.

            James Hacker:

            Bernard Woolley:
            He’d already got one.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Placido Domingo has an honorary knighthood. Given to him I think by Jack Straw at the Embassy in Washington DC.

  • Amos says:

    John Williams composed the music for the 2008 Spielberg movie Tintin. My understanding is that the UK composer Nainta Desai is composing the music for the sequel directed by Peter Jackson and produced by Spielberg.

  • Jonathan_ Winters says:

    John Williams is by far the most successful American composer of all times. Living or dead. Some of his music is indeed very original & majestic, despite of jealous critics. As for the Queen. I see the British adoration for the monarch and dedication to her funeral the same way I saw Americans going gaga for George Floyd, who like the queen also had a violent criminal history. Floyd was a rapist, drug addict and just useless human being but at least didn’t seek to destroy the lives of millions & their freedoms in at least 12 countries.

  • JD says:

    What about John Barry? At least he was a homegrown composer of film music…