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Alan Cumming has revealed he has made the decision to return his OBE.

The Scottish actor received the honour from the Queen in 2009 for his services to film, theatre and the arts, and activism for LGBTQ+ rights.

However, in a post to commemorate his 58th birthday on Friday, Alan explained he had “misgivings” at “being associated with the toxicity of empire” and had now handed back the award.

The host of The Traitors US explained how he had originally felt “incredibly grateful” to receive the award, noting how in America at the time, same-sex couples couldn’t legally get married and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell meant that openly LGBTQ+ people were banned from serving in the military.

After quoting his statement he made at the time, Alan went on to say: “The Queen’s death and the ensuing conversations about the role of monarchy and especially the way the British Empire profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples across the world really opened my eyes.”

Alan was made an OBE 14 years ago

Simone Padovani via Getty Images

He continued: “Also, thankfully, times and laws in the US have changed, and the great good the award brought to the LGBTQ+ cause back in 2009 is now less potent than the misgivings I have being associated with the toxicity of empire (OBE stands for Officer of the British Empire).

“So I returned my award, explained my reasons and reiterated my great gratitude for being given it in the first place. I’m now back to being plain old Alan Cumming again.

“Happy birthday to me!” he added.

Alan’s fellow actor Michael Sheen, who was also awarded an OBE in 2009 for his services to drama, also returned his honour in 2017.

He chose to do so as he did not want to be a “hypocrite” when he aired his views about the monarchy in a Raymond Williams lecture.

Michael said that while researching the history of his native Wales and its relationship with the British state, he realised he could not both deliver his lecture and hold on to the OBE.




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