Michael Sheen, the Golden Globe nominated star of The Queen and Masters of sex, honored Queen Elizabeth II so that he could divulge his views on the British monarchy without being labeled a hypocrite.
Speaking in a YouTube interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones, the Welsh actor said he had issued an Order of the British Empire (OBE) he received in 2009 for theater services.
He quietly returned the honor in 2017 after conducting research on Wales’ relationship with England at the Raymond Williams Society conference. He referred to his discomfort with practices such as handing over the title of Prince of Wales to the heir to the throne, despite this individual being English.
“Raymond Williams wrote a piece called Who Speaks For Wales in 1971 – and I took that as a starting point for the conference like in Who Speaks For Wales now?” Said Sheen, who played the former prime minister Tony Blair in The Queen.
“And in my research, to do this lecture, I learned a lot about Welsh history. By the time I finished typing this lecture… I remember sitting there and saying to myself “well, I have a choice” to either not give this lecture and have my OBE or I give this lecture and I return the OBE. I wanted to do the lecture so I returned my OBE.
Sheen said he didn’t want to disrespect the gesture and that he was “incredibly honored” to receive the gong in 2009. “I didn’t mean to disrespect, but I just realized that I would be a hypocritical if I said the things I was going to say in the conference on the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state, ”he added.