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Famous faces join Queen to celebrate centenary of prestigious order

Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Roger Bannister attended a choral evensong at Hampton Court.

National figures have celebrated their membership of a prestigious order – but were told it was not for celebrities simply known for being famous.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by well known individuals, like Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Roger Bannister, for a choral evensong service at Hampton Court Palace to commemorate the centenary of the Order of the Companions of Honour.

The order was established in 1917 by George V in recognition of service of national importance.

It is sometimes regarded as the junior honour to the Order of Merit and is made up of the sovereign, plus no more than 65 members, who may use the letters CH after their names.

In his sermon the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, Dean of HM Chapels Royal, told the congregation the order’s tradition of an “abhorrence of ostentation” meant the 100th anniversary service was the first time the companions had been “solemnly convened”.

The Dean, who delivered his sermon at Hampton Court Palace’s chapel royal, went on to say: “Some members of the order have been and are today household names.

“But this is not an order for celebrities who are simply well known for their well knownness. But practitioners in various fields with a sustained record of service of national importance.”

He added: “The order stands not merely for public achievements but for the kind of integrity and unshakeable commitment to principle, which comes from obeying a calling beyond our immediate self interest.

“And this capacity to go beyond self interest, to serve the greater good, begins with humility. Not the hand wringing kind, but a sober clarity that we are not the point around which the whole world revolves but a responsible part of the whole.”

After the service the group, which also included former politicians like George Osborne, Lord Howard and Sir John Major, posed for an official picture with the Queen and Duke, before attending a drinks reception.

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