Many know Maggie Smith, 79, as Professor McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” films or as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey,” but Queen Elizabeth II can call her a friend -- or rather a companion. Smith was officially given the Companions of Honor award, E! Online reports.
While the award is prestigious, this does not give Smith any royal status. However, she can officially add CH to the end of her name. The Companions of Honor award is given to “men and women for recognized services of national importance,” according to the British Monarchy’s official website.
The ceremony for giving out honors is called an investiture and was held in Windsor Castle, the queen’s Berkshire home, Friday (Oct. 17), the Daily Mail reported. The award has only been given to 65 living people, including actor Ian McKellen and physicist Stephen Hawking, the Associated Press reported.
Smith declined to speak to the press after the ceremony, but she was seen smiling as the queen pinned the award onto Smith’s coat.
— British Royals (@britishroyals) October 17, 2014
The award honors a long career for Smith. Her acting career began in the 1950s in theater but rapidly moved into film. Her first of six Oscar nominations came in 1966 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for “Othello.” While she didn’t win then, she went on to win two Academy Awards (1970 and 1976) as well as seven BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards, including a Special Lifetime Achievement BAFTA award in 1993.
Smith can be seen in “Downton Abbey” which returns to PBS in the United States for its fifth season Jan. 4.