List of people who have declined a British honour

From Academic Kids

The following is a partial list of people who have declined a British honour, such as a knighthood or an Order of the British Empire. In most cases, the honour was rejected privately; others were rejected publicly, or accepted then returned later, as with John Lennon and Rabindranath Tagore. Some potential recipients have rejected one honour then accepted another one (such as Alfred Hitchcock), or have initially refused an honour then accepted it (such as Helen Mirren), or have accepted one honour then declined another (such as Vanessa Redgrave), or refused in the hopes of another (Roald Dahl was offered an OBE but refused because he wanted a knighthood so that his wife would be Lady Dahl). This often has as much to do with the political party in power as anything else, since honours are widely seen as being political rewards. Sometimes a potential recipient will refuse a knighthood or peerage, but will accept an honour that does not carry a title (Paul Scofield and Augustus John are examples).

Many of these were identified in December 2003 when a confidential document containing over 300 names of such people was leaked to the Sunday Times:

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