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.
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.
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
HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1968
Honorary Member: Nelson Mandela, 1995