Robert Plant and Terry Pratchett win UK honors

LONDON Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:08pm EST

1 of 4. Singer Robert Plant performs during the 'Hommage a Ahmet Ertegun' show at the 40th Montreux Jazz festival in Montreaux in this June 30, 2006 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Dominic Favre

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rock singer Robert Plant, fantasy author Terry Pratchett and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton were all honored by Britain's Queen Elizabeth on Wednesday.

The queen also granted awards to members of Britain's Beijing Olympics team, including a knighthood for triple cycling gold medalist Chris Hoy, the country's most successful Olympian at a single games for 100 years.

The credit crunch even made an appearance in the traditional New Year's honors list, with a knighthood for Nick Macpherson, the most senior civil servant at the government's Treasury, for his "extraordinary work" on tackling the financial crisis.

Plant, 60, most famous for fronting rock band Led Zeppelin in the 1970s, becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) under Britain's ancient and complex system of honorary titles.

Plant has forged a successful career since Led Zeppelin's demise in 1980, recently collaborating with singer Alison Krauss on the acclaimed album "Raising Sand."

Pratchett, 60, best known for his satirical "Discworld" fantasy series, becomes a knight, one of the queen's most important honors, and will now be addressed as a "Sir."

"There are times when phrases such as 'totally astonished' just don't do the job," he said in a statement.

"I am of course delighted and honored and needless to say, flabbergasted."

In December 2007 Pratchett announced he had a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease, and earlier this year he donated 500,000 pounds ($725,000) to research into the disorder.

FORMULA ONE

Hamilton, 23, became the youngest Formula One world champion in November in only his second season competing in the annual championship.

The first black driver on the Formula One motor racing circuit, Hamilton is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), a lower ranking award.

Britain's Olympics squad won a fresh haul of honors after coming a better-than-expected fourth in the Beijing medals table.

As well as Hoy's knighthood there were awards for double gold-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington, 400 meters champion Christine Ohuruogu and double cycling gold winner Bradley Wiggins.

There were also honors for Olympic sailing gold medalists Ben Ainslie, Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb.

Fourteen-year-old Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds was made an MBE after winning two golds in Beijing, becoming the youngest person ever to be royally honored.

There was an OBE for actor Michael Sheen, who played former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the 2006 film "The Queen," and a CBE for jazz musician Courtney Pine.

In the world of business there were knighthoods for Alexander Crombie, group chief executive of insurer Standard Life, and for David Jones, former chairman of retailer Next and co-founder of a Parkinson's disease charity.

Most of the 966 people on the New Year's list are honored for voluntary work or for their contributions to health, education or local services.

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White)

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