Rebellious Manchester: Oscar winner Danny Boyle and the Mancunians who say ‘no’ to Queen’s honours

By Andrew Bardsley

After Olympic opening ceremony hero Danny Boyle revealed this month that he has declined a knighthood, MM investigates which other famous Mancunians have turned down honours from Her Majesty.

The Radcliffe Oscar-winning filmmaker, who directed Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, has said he wants to remain “a man of the people.”

He was put forward for his work organising the spectacular Opening Ceremony of last summer’s Olympic Games, which had an egalitarian feel to it, with the NHS acting as a cornerstone for the celebrations.

Boyle, 56, told Radio 4 last week: “I’m very proud to be an equal citizen and I think that’s what the Opening Ceremony was actually about.”

Famous Mancunians have a history of rejecting honours from the Queen stretching right back to the 1950s.

LS Lowry holds the record for rejecting the most British honours, turning down five including an OBE in 1955, a CBE in 1961 and a knighthood in 1968.

Famed for his work depicting industrial towns in the North West and his trademark matchstick men, Lowry – who died in 1976 – was a very private man and wanted to keep it that way.

The Stretford born artist is honoured in Salford with the Lowry Theatre on the Quays, and his creative legacy lives on.

Salford’s Albert Finney, who recently starred in the new Bond film Skyfall, turned down a knighthood in 2000 as well as a CBE in 1980.

The four-time Oscar nominee burst onto the scene with his portrayal of Arthur Seaton in the classic kitchen sink film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and has gone on to have a glittering career.

But Finney has been a constant critic of the honours system, claiming it ‘perpetuates snobbery’.

Manchester has always been a rebellious city, and some of its favourite sons have clearly enhanced this reputation.

Communist pioneers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels worked in the city, it bred the co-operative movement in Rochdale, and demands for parliamentary reform led to the 1819 Peterloo Massacre.

And Morrissey, one of the city’s most outspoken stars, continues to berate the royal family.

He recently slammed the royals for their handling of the tragic prank phone call incident, and declared ‘the arrogance of the British royals is staggering, absolutely staggering’.

It doesn’t look likely that Morrissey will get the chance to refuse any honours just as Danny Boyle did!

Picture courtesy of Time Magazine via YouTube, with thanks.

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