Angelia Jolie gets honorary damehood from Queen Elizabeth: 5 interesting things about this rare honour

Actress Angelina Jolie is presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in the 1844 room at Buckingham Palace in London on October 10, 2014. --
Actress Angelina Jolie is presented with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in the 1844 room at Buckingham Palace in London on October 10, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II named US actress Angelina Jolie, 39, an honorary dame in recognition of her campaigning against sexual violence and contributions towards the United Kingdom's foreign policy on Friday.

Just as famous for her on-screen exploits as she is for her humanitarian work these days, Jolie was presented with the insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George in a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

Here are some interestings facts about Jolie and the title.

1. Did Jolie curtsy during her audience with the queen?

While it is tradition for females to curtsy in front of royalty, the act is notoriously hard to perfect.

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Opinion was divided over whether Jolie actually did it the correct way, although photos did show her preforming a rather elegant half-curtsy (or bow, depending on how you look at it), earning plenty of plaudits on social media.

2. Her outfit was scrutinised

Entertainment Weekly reported that the Oscar winner was clad in a dove-gray wool crepe peplum jacket and pencil skirt from British haute couture label Ralph & Russo's Spring 2014 collection, along with Salvatore Ferragamo heels.

Online site Fashionista claimed her appropriate-for-the-occasion ensemble had "major Kate Middleton vibes" and also featured the Queen's preferred long hem length.

3. Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is a Honorary Knight

Mr Lee Kuan Yew was also conferred The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 1972, which is awarded to men and women who render important non-military service in a foreign country.

The late president Ong Teng Cheong received the honour in 1998. Both men were the recipients of the highest class - Knight Grand Cross (GCMG) - while Jolie's is the second class: Knight Commander (KCMG) or Dame Commander (DCMG).

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There are three classes in total for The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. 

4. Jolie is one of the youngest individuals to be conferred the honour

It is rather unusual for someone as young as Jolie to be bestowed with a damehood, as such an honour is usually given later in life. Other notable females granted damehood include Mother Teresa, who was 73 when she was granted the honour, and former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan, who was 62 at the time of investiture. 

As she is not a British citizen, Jolie is not allowed to be addressed as Dame but can still carry the initials DCMG after her name. 

5. You can decline a British honour

A London's Sunday Times article in 2003 reported a leaked confidential document containing the names of more than 300 people who declined the honour. Among the more famous names to have rejected it are novelist Rudyard Kipling and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.

-- PHOTO: AFP Beatles star John Lennon famously returned his Order of the British Empire (MBE) insignia in 1969 with a letter protesting Britain's involvement in several global issues, including its support of America during the Vietnam War.

mklee@sph.com.sg