The Lord of the Rings star was yesterday made a ‘Companion of Honour’ by UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

The openly gay actor was honoured for lifelong services to both Drama and Equality in a prestigious ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Sir Ian McKellen is now one of only 65 non-royals to be bestowed with this award, which was created in 1917 as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, or religion.

This honour is an extension of his knighthood that he received in 1991 for outstanding contributions to British theatre.

The veteran actor, 69, has been a champion for gay rights since he first came out in 1988. He is a founding member of the United Kingdom’s most influential LGBT rights group, Stonewall (named after the Stonewall Riots), and remains a prominent spokesperson for the organisation.

McKellen is also Patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London, GAY-GLOS and The Lesbian & Gay Foundation.

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