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Honor society: Britain taps McCartney, Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber was made a peer of the realm and Paul McCartney was awarded a knighthood in England’s annual New Year’s honors list, which were announced by the British prime minister’s office Tuesday.

Also honored for their work were Joan Collins, who was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE); playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who was knighted; and novelist Frederick Forsyth, who was named a Com-mander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

The roster, which this year names more than 1,000 people, honors individuals for contributions in their field that bring renown to Britain.

The list is a highly touted annual rite in Britain, but to many it’s a symbol of Britain’s rigid class distinctions.

However, Prime Minister John Major has vowed to create a classless society, and officials were careful Tuesday to point out that the list saluted a road repair worker, a newspaper seller and a waiter.

Lloyd Webber was knighted in 1992 for services to the arts; his new elevation to the peerage allows him to sit in the House of Lords. He said he is “deeply grateful” for his latest honor.

The film version of “Evita,” the stage tuner he wrote with lyricist Tim Rice, opened in the U.K. this month. Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, Prince Edward, once worked at Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group production company.

The Beatles’ producer, George Martin, received a knighthood last year, but McCartney is the first member of the Fab Four to be given the title of “Sir.” The Beatles in 1965 were named MBEs, or Members of the British Empire.

McCartney dedicated his award to his fellow Beatles, including his late songwriting partner, John Lennon, who was shot and killed by a fan in 1980.

McCartney, 54, said, “It’s a fantastic honor and I am very gratefully receiving it on behalf of all the people of Liverpool and the other Beatles, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Ayckbourn’s plays include “How the Other Half Loves,” “Woman in Mind,” “The Revenger’s Comedies” and “The Norman Conquests.”

Forsyth’s best-sellers include “The Day of the Jackal.” Collins is best-known for her work in the 1970s ABC series “Dynasty.”

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