Michael Sheen has risked a backlash after announcing that he gave back his OBE years after receiving it from the Queen.
The performer said he made the controversial move to avoid looking a hypocrite before giving a speech on the history of his native Wales, including past wrongs perpetrated by England.
And he called for the tradition of giving the heir to the throne the title of Prince of Wales to be discarded when Charles becomes king, saying it was an embarrassment for the Welsh.
The 51-year-old, whose acclaimed roles have included Tony Blair, football boss Brian Clough and commentator David Frost, accepted the recognition from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2009.
However, he gave it back after researching Welsh history while preparing to give a lecture to students in 2017.
He said he realised it would be insincere for him to discuss the association between Wales and the British state while still having the OBE and Michael Sheen said reading up on the history of Wales for the annual Raymond Williams lecture, named after a Marxist intellectual, had opened his eyes to problems still resonate today.
He added that in his research to do that lecture he learnt a lot about Welsh history and that he was still standing at the foothills of an understanding of all that, but that was a crash course.
He said that by the time he’d finished writing the lecture, he recalled sitting there thinking to himself that he had a choice. Either he didn’t give the lecture and he could hold onto his OBE or he could give the lecture and he would have to give his OBE back.
He still wanted to give the lecture so he gave his OBE back.
He said he told the Palace at the time that he didn’t mean to be rude and felt extremely honoured to have received it back in 2009 and he said that he meant absolutely no disrespect by doing this and that he didn’t want to cause a big debate about it.
Father of two, Michael Sheen said the OBE had meant a lot to him and his family and had helped him in lots of ways and that people have asked why he’s got so upset about things that occurred hundreds of years ago, but he said it still has power here.
This was extremely commendable of him because we should never trade our beliefs to fit in with the norm and we should be true to ourselves, no matter what that is.
We might not be able to control history, but we can attempt to prevent these things from happening again in the United Kingdom, but the same can be said about every country because there are times when past bad behaviour isn’t taken into consideration so that we can move on.
But good for him and congratulations to all those who’ve laboured hard over the years to ensure that the Welsh language prevails.
Performers shouldn’t be given these awards anyhow, they only used to be given to people who deserved them.