Michael Sheen ‘returned OBE to express views on the monarchy’

Michael Sheen OBE return: Star reveals why he gave up honour

Quiz actor 'did not want to appear to be a hypocrite'

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Michael Sheen has spoken about his OBE return and revealed he sent back the honour to speak freely about the royal family and the monarchy.

The Welsh actor, 51, revealed he did not want to appear to be a hypocrite. He added he felt he could not keep the gong if he was to make his views known.

However, the Quiz star insisted he meant ‘no disrespect’ in returning the award, which he received in 2009.

The Queen awarded Michael a medal for services to drama.

Michael Sheen ‘returned OBE to express views on the monarchy’
Michael Sheen wanted to be able to speak freely about the monarchy (Credit: Splash News)

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Nonetheless, Michael came to his decision after researching the history of Wales.

He was scheduled to deliver an address as part of the 2017 Raymond Williams lecture.

I wanted to do the lecture so I gave my OBE back.

But he decided against announcing the move then in case any row overshadowed it. 

Speaking to columnist Owen Jones, Michael revealed the bigger picture was about calling for the Prince of Wales title to be scrapped.

Michael Sheen ‘returned OBE to express views on the monarchy’
He played Chris Tarrant earlier this year in Quiz (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

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Explaining the history behind the title, Michael noted it would be a “really meaningful and powerful gesture for that title” to be made redundant once Prince Charles becomes king.

“That would be an incredibly meaningful thing I think to happen,” he said.

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Michael also explained he discovered much about Wales’ “tortured” history in his research for the lecture.

Michael said: “Raymond Williams famous wrote a piece called Who Speaks For Wales in 1971. And I took that as my starting point for the lecture as in ‘who speaks for Wales now?’

“And in my research, to do that lecture, I learned a lot about Welsh history.

“By the time I finished typing that lecture, I remember sitting there and thinking: ‘Well I have a choice. Either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and give the OBE back.’

“I wanted to do the lecture so I gave my OBE back.”

Michael Sheen ‘returned OBE to express views on the monarchy’
The dad-of-two shares a daughter with Anna Lundberg (Credit: Splash News)

Why Michael Sheen decided on returning his OBE

Michael continued: “I just realised I’d be a hypocrite if I said the things I was going to say in the lecture about the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state.”

Other celebrities who have returned or refused honours include David Bowie, John Lennon, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Benjamin Zephaniah, Nigella Lawson and Alan Bennett.

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