Private Johnson Beharry - the first living Victoria Cross recipient since 1969 - was among the guests receiving awards from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.
Pte Beharry, 25, who was twice injured saving colleagues under enemy fire in Iraq, said he was told by the Queen: "You're very special."
General Sir Mike Jackson, the UK's top soldier, was also knighted by the Queen, receiving the honour of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.
Sir Mike said he had been "overshadowed" at the investiture by Pte Beharry. "And quite rightly so - it was an honour to stand alongside him," Sir Mike said.
Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur received her damehood for achieving the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, in 71 days.
Bafta-winning veteran actress Anna Massey, star of Hotel du Lac, collected a CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire - for services to drama.