Elton John has undoubtedly been a member of many exclusive clubs over the decades, but probably nothing as exclusive as the one he officially joined on Wednesday.
At an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, Prince Charles anointed the rock star and charity benefactor as a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor.
It is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed by Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on citizens of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The 95-year-old monarch is also a member of the order.
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Introduced in 1917 by her grandfather, King George V, the award recognizes people who “have made significant contributions to the arts, science, medicine or government over a long period of time.”
Current members include British environmentalist David Attenborough, Canadian author Margaret Atwood and one of Britain’s greatest athletes of all time, Sebastian Coe.
The group, which historically included wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and scientist Stephen Hawking, can number up to 65 at a time, not counting the sovereign.
Knighted by the Queen in 1998, a year after the death of his girlfriend Diana, the Princess of Wales, John joined the Queen’s Companions of Honor in late 2019 for his services to music and charity.
The 74-year-old singer-songwriter, who walked with the aid of a graceful cane after recent hip surgery, looked back on a career in which he released a hit every decade since the 1970s, including “Your Song.” Rocketman” and “Candle in the Wind”. He also took leadership roles in a number of charities, most notably the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“I’ve had a great life, music has been my life, and I have this for music and for charity work,” he said. “So this is just a reminder that there’s more to do. More work to do for music, more work to do for charity and life is great – I’m so lucky.”
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His farewell tour has been postponed and will start next year, but he remains full of energy despite the surgery on his right hip.
“I’ve had a hip replacement, but I’m full of beans and I’m full of zest for life, but this is just a hunch to say, ‘Come on, you’ve got more to do now,'” he said.