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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 09:27 GMT
Pinter given royal honour
Harold Pinter with the Queen at Buckingham Palace
Pinter went to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday
Legendary playwright Harold Pinter has been given a prestigious accolade by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Pinter, 72, who has been battling cancer, was made a Companion of Honour - a member of an exclusive order that has just 65 members at any time.

Best-known for plays including The Caretaker and The Homecoming, Pinter is regarded as one of the most important figures in English writing over the last half century.

Harold Pinter
A Pinter season is currently being shown on BBC Four
He was handed the medal by the Queen on Wednesday for his services to literature.

Already made a CBE in 1966, Pinter can now add the letters CH to his title.

He recently said the award was "an honour given to me by the country for a long haul".

He has also been an outspoken critic of bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

He once famously turned down a knighthood from former prime minister John Major, saying: "I would not accept such recognition from a Conservative government."

But he said he did not regard the latest honour as "having any political connotations at all".

He has been recovering from cancer of the oesophagus, which required him to have a major operation and chemotherapy.

He recently described it as "a close encounter with death".

Political stance

Married to author Lady Antonia Fraser, he has written more than 25 plays, which include The Birthday Party and The Betrayal.

A season of his TV plays is currently being shown on digital TV channel BBC Four.

He has also written screenplays for films including The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Comfort of Strangers.

His political stance has seen him opposed to the government's military actions, and recently said he was "ashamed and disgusted" at Tony Blair's "subservience" to President Bush's foreign policy.

President Bush was "on a par" with Saddam Hussein, he told BBC Two's Newsnight in October.

See also:

26 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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14 Jun 02 | Birthday Honours 2002
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