Kenneth Branagh knighted in Queen's birthday honors

LONDON Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:30pm EDT

Irish actor Kenneth Branagh arrives at the US-Ireland Alliance Pre-Academy Awards event in Santa Monica, California February 23, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

Irish actor Kenneth Branagh arrives at the US-Ireland Alliance Pre-Academy Awards event in Santa Monica, California February 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gus Ruelas

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LONDON (Reuters) - British actor Kenneth Branagh, "Titanic" star Kate Winslet and Take That frontman Gary Barlow head the list of Queen Elizabeth's annual birthday honors, announced by Britain's Cabinet Office on Saturday.

Branagh, a renowned Shakespearean actor on stage and screen, will now be known as "Sir Kenneth" after he was knighted in one of the highest awards.

He said the award was very special to him. "I feel very humble about it, I feel elated about it," he told the BBC.

Winslet, winner of an Oscar in 2008 for her role in holocaust drama "The Reader", and who starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic", was made a CBE, or Commander of the British Empire.

Barlow, also a judge in Britain's X Factor television music contest, picked up the lesser OBE award, or Order of the British Empire.

He received the honor just days after overseeing a glittering pop concert outside the queen's Buckingham Palace residence in London as part of the Jubilee celebrations marking her 60-year reign.

In another royal connection, Sarah Burton, designer of the dress worn by Prince William's wife Kate at their wedding at London's Westminster Abbey last year, was made an OBE.

Among sportsmen, there were honors for former England international soccer goalkeeper David James, golf world number one Luke Donald, and former Wales international rugby player Shane Williams.

In all, some 1,201 people were honored by the queen, with the majority - 72 percent - being "unsung heroes" nominated because of their contribution to their local community, such as foster care, charity work and even road sweeping.

(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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