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On top of being a founding member of Queen, one of the biggest rock bands in history, Brian May is a respected astrophysicist and a renowned animal rights activist. Now, he has added another honor to his list of accolades. The British guitarist has been knighted by King Charles III in recognition of his contributions to “music and charity.” Going forward, May will be known as Sir Brian—a title that definitely goes along with the lasting impact he has had in science and pop culture.
The knighting ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace on March 14, 2023. He attended the ceremony alongside his wife, Anita Dobson, an actress known for her work in the long-running show EastEnders. May was seen chatting with the king afterwards, and he also posed for pictures with fellow musician YolanDa Brown, who was awarded an OBE.
His full citation reads: “Dr. Brian Harold MAY, CBE: Brian May is an acclaimed musician and songwriter, founding member of the rock group Queen. In 2020 he was named Greatest Guitarist of All Time by Total Guitar Magazine. Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985 is acknowledged as the greatest live set in history. Brian famously opened the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 performing live on Buckingham Palace roof—and 20 years later returned to open the Platinum Jubilee concert atop the Victoria Monument.
“He is also an accomplished astrophysicist, now attached as stereoscopist to many NASA Space exploration teams. He re-established the London Stereoscopic Company in 2008, was co-founder of Asteroid Day in 2015, for the protection of Earth from Asteroid strikes, and was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moore’s University from 2008–2013. His work defending Britain’s wild animals led him to found the Save-Me Trust in 2009, which is his continuing passion, campaigning for the rights of foxes and badgers, and hosting an active wild-life rescue operation.”
May had previously received the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2005 as an acknowledgement for his multidisciplinary career. After rising to fame with Queen in the 1970s, he put aside his astrophysics studies for decades. He then received his PhD from Imperial College London in 2007.
With Queen, he wrote one of the most famous rock songs of all time, “We Will Rock You.” He was also key in the development and recording of the band's other hits, such as “We Are the Champions,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The latter has become the most streamed song from the 20th century and was certified Diamond in the United States.
The guitarist was announced as one of the 1,000 people featured in King Charles III’s first New Year’s honors list, which was unveiled back in December 2022. May responded to the honor with the message: “I’m happy and grateful to receive this honor. I will regard the knighthood not so much as a reward, but more as a charge—a commission—for me to continue to fight for justice—to be a voice for those who have no voice. I will endeavor to be worthy—to be that Knight in Shining Armour.”
Guitarist Brian May, a founding member of the rock band Queen, was knighted by King Charles III.
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His new title comes in recognition of his contributions to “music and charity.”
Arise Sir Brian May ⚔️🎸
Brian's investiture as a Knight of The Realm took place today at Buckingham Palace. The knighthood was presented to Brian by His Royal Highness, King Charles.
Many congratulations, Sir Brian!
📸©️ Alamy pic.twitter.com/nE3ZmfvPSZ
— Queen (@QueenWillRock) March 14, 2023