Lenny Henry


My mum was strange. She always said you should pay attention to achievements more than honours, but the thing is, she would have loved me getting the knighthood. So the main reason I accepted the knighthood – even in the face of people saying, “don’t do it” – was because of my mum.

I’m very aware of all the implications that go with receiving something that has the word “Empire” anywhere in it. But I remember my mum’s face when I did the Royal Variety Performance. She was on the same level as the Queen and was offering her Hobnobs and toffees and waving at her in a kind of royal way. I just thought that was so funny.

When I imagined my mum being at the knighthood ceremony in a five-foot wide church hat, obscuring the vision of everybody behind her, I just thought, “I’m going to do this.”

So the knighthood was a big moment for me, and my family, and we had a very, very good party afterwards. There’s a picture of me in an inflatable rubber crown and my eyes are crossed. So I think we imbibed a bit, but it was a fantastic day.


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