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Unsung heroes celebrated at 100-year Order of the British Empire anniversary

The Queen is the sovereign of the Order of the British Empire and the Duke of Edinburgh is its Grand Master.

The “honourable service” of the country’s unsung heroes and celebrated figures has been recognised at a national service marking the 100th anniversary of the Order of the British Empire.

As the St Paul’s Cathedral event, attended by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, began words of support were said for the victims of the Manchester terrorist bombing.

Monday night’s suicide attack at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande left 22 people dead, including an eight-year-old girl, and dozens injured.

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(Toby Melville/PA)

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, told the congregation in his bidding: “And we commend today to God’s love those who suffer at the hands of others in Manchester and elsewhere.”

Among those seated in the pews of St Paul’s Cathedral were almost 2,000 holders of the Order of the British Empire’s awards, from Knights and Dames to those who have received a CBE, OBE or MBE.

Those invited included former BBC weatherman Michael Fish MBE, broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe CBE.

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(Philip Toscano/PA)

In his sermon the Dean told those gathered: “Thousands of award holders quietly go enriching our civic life and serving those in need, building the kingdom of God in love and care for others; and their awards often recognise, not only their individual efforts, but also the service of many others alongside them.”

King George V established the Order in 1917 to reward outstanding contributions to the First World War effort and today it recognises the work of people from all walks of life.

The Queen is the sovereign of the Order of the British Empire and the Duke of Edinburgh is its Grand Master.

Highlighting some of the good causes and areas of endeavour that have been recognised by the Order the Dean went on to say: “Hedgehog conservation, chocolate making, sport and health, industry and the arts, charity and volunteering – we celebrate an amazing hundred years of honourable service, thanking God who gives us life, that we might use it wisely and well in loving God and our neighbour”.

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Political caricaturist Gerald Scarfe, who has lampooned prime Ministers, princes and other leading figures, was awarded his CBE by the Queen in 2008.

Asked why an anti-establishment figure agreed to attend the service he said: “I don’t know, I’ve got to that point in life where I think ‘well, sod it’.

“I’ve never been anti the Queen or anything,” he added joking: “I don’t want to kill the Queen.”

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