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Monday, August 10, 1998 Published at 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK


New honour for Poet Laureate

Ted Hughes: More royal approval for his poems

The Poet Laureate Ted Hughes has added a new honour to his OBE and special royal position.

The 68-year-old is to become a member of the Order of Merit.

[ image: Baroness Thatcher: Appointed to Order in 1990]
Baroness Thatcher: Appointed to Order in 1990
He joins luminaries such as Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Gielgud on the current list.

Mr Hughes has been Poet Laureate since 1984 and composed works for the Queen's 60th birthday and the Queen Mother's 90th birthday.

Clearly the poems have met with approval since this is one of the few gifts the Queen can give without reference to the government.

It was founded in 1902 by King Edward VII as a special mark of honour awarded by the Sovereign to individuals of exceptional distinction.

Membership is limited in numbers to the Queen and 24 others as well as additional honorary foreign members.

[ image: Nelson Mandela: Currently only Honorary Member]
Nelson Mandela: Currently only Honorary Member
South African President Nelson Mandela is the only current member from outside Britain.

Other members include Dame Joan Sutherland, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead and Lord Menuhin.

The appointment of Hughes brings membership of the Order to its full number and it is the 160th appointment to the Order since its foundation.

As Poet Laureate, Hughes is already an honorary member of the Royal Household and was appointed by royal warrant after the death of his predecessor, Sir John Betjeman.

The post of Poet Laureate dates back to the reign of King James I.

The poems Hughes has written for Royal occasions are collected in a volume titled "Rain-Charm for the Duchy and other Laureate Poems".

The last Poet Laureate appointed to the Order of Merit was John Masefield in 1955.

Members of the Order with year appointed

The Sovereign

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1968
Sir George Edwards, 1971
Sir Alan Hodgkin, 1973
Revd Prof Owen Chadwick KBE, 1983
Sir Andrew Huxley, 1983
Frederick Sanger, 1986
Lord Menuhin, 1987
Prof Sir Ernest Gombrich, 1988
Dr Max Perutz, 1988
Dame Cicely Saunders, 1989
Prof Lord Porter of Luddenham, 1989
Baroness Thatcher, 1990
Dame Joan Sutherland, 1991
Prof Francis Crick, 1991
Dame Ninette de Valois, 1992
Sir Michael Atiyah, 1992
Lucian Freud, 1993
Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, 1993
Sir Aaron Klug, 1995
Sir John Gielgud, 1996
Lord Denning of Whitchurch, 1997
Sir Norman Foster, 1997
Sir Dennis Rooke, 1997

Honorary Member: Nelson Mandela, 1995

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