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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"He said this was one of the proudest days of his life"
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Isabel Fraser reports
"Sir Sean said it had been a long time coming"
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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Sir Sean's pride at knighthood
Sir Sean Connery and his wife Micheline after receiving his knighthood
Waving to the crowd after receiving his knighthood
Sean Connery has described the ceremony at which he was knighted by the Queen in Edinburgh as "one of the proudest days of my life".

Connery, made famous as 007 master spy James Bond, was honoured for services to film drama at an investitute he specifically requested take place in his home city.

He wore Highland dress and was accompanied by his wife Micheline and brother Neil at the ceremony in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

I think it's a great honour for Scotland. There's only one day of the Honours system up here

Sir Sean Connery
He knelt while the Queen touched his shoulders lightly with a sword. Then, he rose and bowed as the Queen placed a small red sash bearing his medal around his neck.

The Queen, in a blue dress, shook hands with Sir Sean and they chatted for several moments before he took his seat while the ceremony continued.

Overseas home

Later, he said the Queen had asked how often he came to Scotland and said he had not been nervous about their meeting.

"I think it's a great honour for Scotland. There's only one day of the Honours system up here," he said.

"It's one of the proudest days of my life."

Signing an autograph before the ceremony
Signing an autograph before the ceremony
Sir Sean, who lives in Marbella with his second wife Micheline, was then asked if he would be coming back to Scotland. He grinned and replied: "I haven't gone yet."

Connery's support for the Scottish National Party and an independent Scotland, is reported to have resulted in him being denied a knighthood in the 1997 and 1998 honours lists. The 69-year-old actor donates 4,800 a month to party coffers.

The then Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar was said to have vetoed Connery's knighthood in December 1997.

'Smack' controversy

At the time, the veteran actor said he was "deeply disappointed but strangely not angry or greatly surprised".

There was further controversy when it was reported that Connery had said at the beginning of his career that it was "okay to smack a woman".

Mr Dewar, recuperating at home after heart surgery, said on Wednesday: "I'm always delighted when Scots from whichever walk of life are honoured."

Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart: Tribute to friend
His close friend, former world champion racing driver Jackie Stewart, said: "He has certainly earned it and has certainly been a great ambassador for Scotland and Great Britain.

"I think he sees it as a recognition of his efforts.

"I don't think he has changed very much as a person since he left Fountainbridge all those years ago."

Scotland tattoos

Miss Moneypenny, who played Bond's boss's secretary, was never able to secure the spy's affections in the films but clearly had an impact on the real-life actress, Lois Maxwell.

"He was gorgeous. He was big and handsome and defiant and dangerous and moody and just simply gorgeous. He still is," she said.

He always had a smile and a joke for you

Alex Kitson
Connery is fiercely proud of his Scottish roots. One of the two tattoos he had done during a three-year stint in the Royal Navy says "Scotland Forever".

At the opening of the Scottish Parliament, Connery received a rapturous reception and declared the day the "most important of his life".

He turned up in full Highland dress to the delight of the crowds outside the Edinburgh parliament building.

'Diamonds' fee donated

Since the early 1970s his love for Scotland has manifested itself in projects such as the Scottish International Education Trust, an organisation dedicated to helping young Scots obtain an education.

He donated his 1m fee from Diamonds Are Forever to the trust.

His move into acting came after his time in the navy and after working as a labourer and a lifeguard.

Connery as James Bond
He became famous as James Bond
Connery's film career, which spans more than 30 years, includes Dr No, Goldfinger, The Name of the Rose, First Knight, Hunt for Red October and Highlander.

As a child, Connery lived in a four-storey tenement in Edinburgh's Fountainbridge and once worked as a milkman on a horse-drawn float.

Former trade union official, the late Alex Kitson, recalled: "He always had a smile and a joke for you. He had the height, the physique and of course if you lived in that part of Edinburgh you had to be able to handle yourself."

He went on to work for a French polishing firm, where Jean Pollock has memories of him as a handsome young man.

"I always remember when I came downstairs from my work and he was standing at the bottom of the stairs and I thought, oh, who's he?"

  • Jim Martin, chauffeur to Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar and other Scottish ministers, received an MBE for his services to the Scottish Executive.

    Earlier, Mr Martin was driven into the palace grounds by Acting First Minister Jim Wallace as a tribute to his efforts.

    He said: "Jim Wallace drove me. I do not know who was the more nervous."

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Scotland
Sir Sean's big day in pictures
21 Dec 99 | UK
Connery: Bond and beyond
12 Jun 00 | Scotland
Connery tops ideal father poll
31 Dec 99 | Scotland
Broad spectrum of Scots honoured
19 Nov 99 | Shaken Not Stirred
Four decades of Bondage
18 Aug 99 | Scotland
Connery 'stabbed in the back'
01 Jul 99 | Scottish Parliament opening
Connery cheered at parliament opening
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