Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has seen his business empire take off over 11 years, has been knighted in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours list.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou continues to expand his 'Easy' empire
Retail tycoon Philip Green also becomes a "Sir", while ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen, entertainer Rolf Harris and ballerina Darcey Bussell are made CBEs.
Singer Beverley Knight becomes an MBE and there are OBEs for actor Charles Dance and chef Gary Rhodes.
Bus driver John George is among the hundreds of ordinary people honoured.
The 59-year-old Travel Coventry employee, who is said to have received commendations from the public "for going that extra mile" and for his charity work, was made an MBE.
Sir Stelios, 39, who is honoured for services to entrepreneurship, dedicated the knighthood to the more than 10,000 staff in his businesses.
He founded low-cost airline Easyjet in 1995 and three years later began expanding his businesses to include internet cafes, car rental and personal finance, as well as launching a bus service and holiday cruises.
Billionaire Sir Philip said his knighthood for services to the retail industry was unexpected but welcome.
He owns the Bhs store chain and the Arcadia group, which includes Top Shop, Miss Selfridge and Dorothy Perkins.
"It is 25 to 30 years of working in this business with tens of thousands of people," he said.
"I think it is a nice honour - to have made your mark. It is nice for me and my family."
Among the other 23 people to receive knighthoods are the chairman of English football's Premier League, David Richards, for services to sport, and veteran BBC journalist Charles Wheeler, who has been at the forefront of world news reporting for more than 50 years.
ITV newsreader Alastair Stewart is made an OBE, while broadcaster Rantzen, is made CBE, to add to her OBE, for services to children and young people.
Rolf Harris unveiled his portrait of the Queen last year
Australian-born Harris was honoured for services to entertainment and the arts. The CBE is added to his OBE and MBE and comes in the year he painted a portrait of the Queen for her 80th birthday.
Several police officers were honoured, including the Met's Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, who becomes a CBE.
As head of specialist operations at the Metropolitan Police, Mr Hayman won praise for his response to the 7 July attacks on London.
Recently he apologised to two brothers from Forest Gate, east London, who were arrested under suspicion of terrorism involvement and held for a week, but eventually freed without charge.
Others on the list include James Goodfellow, the engineer who in the 1960s developed the personal identification number (Pin) concept for cash machines. He becomes an OBE.
And Ruth Silver, principal of Lewisham College, in south London, is made a Dame for services to further education.
"It is a fabulous honour for me personally," she said.
"It seems wrong to get honoured for doing something that you absolutely love and adore."
Song and dance
The director of hit film Bend it Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha, is made an OBE.
Beverley Knight was awarded an MBE for services to music
Her next project - a film version of the 80s soap Dallas, starring John Travolta - is due for release in 2007.
Beverley Knight was honoured for services to music. The 33-year-old from Wolverhampton has had 11 Top 40 hits in her decade-long career.
From the creative field, handbag designer Lulu Guinness and fashion designer Julien Macdonald are both made OBEs.
Outspoken designer Wayne Hemingway and his wife Gerardine, who founded fashion label Red or Dead in 1983, become MBEs.
They sold the company in a multi-million pound deal in 1999 and went on to set up Hemingway Design, which specialises in affordable and social design.
The honours for sports people include an MBE for Britain's top woman rower, Katherine Grainger.
She was an Olympic silver medallist in 2000 and 2004 and twice a world champion, as well as being a member of the quadruple scull that won gold at the World Championships in 2005.
Former England cricketer Graham Thorpe was also honoured for his services to sport by being made an MBE.
He retired from playing in 2005 to take up coaching job in Sydney. He scored 21,937 runs, with 49 centuries - 16 of them coming in the 100 Tests he played for England.
An MBE also goes to Rangers and Scotland football captain Barry Ferguson, who has led his club to two Scottish Premier League titles.