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The name's Sean ... Sir Sean; Scots screen legend is knighted by the Queen.

Movie star Sir Sean Connery received a knighthood from the Queen yesterday and declared it to be one of the proudest days of his life.

The Edinburgh-born actor was honoured at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the city and wore full Highland dress for the ceremony in the Palace's Picture Gallery.

Sir Sean, aged 69, knelt before the Queen while she touched him lightly on the shoulders with a sword and made him a Knight Bachelor.

The former James Bond actor then rose and bowed as the Queen placed a small red sash bearing his medal around his neck. He received the honour for services to drama.

The Queen, wearing a blue dress, then shook hands with Sir Sean and they chatted for some moments before he walked off to take his seat while the ceremony continued.

Afterwards, Sir Sean, looking tanned and relaxed, emerged from the Palace with his wife Micheline, brother Neil and his wife Eleanor and walked towards cheering crowds waiting for him at the gates.

He said he had not felt nervous during the ceremony and added that he was pleased the event had taken place in the Scottish capital, an honour both for himself and Scotland.

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

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

Then Sir Sean, who lives overseas, was asked if he would be returning to Scotland.

He replied with a joke: "I haven't gone yet."

Sir Sean also revealed the subject of his conversation with the Queen. "She just asked how often I come up here," he said.

The actor was one of 89 people receiving a variety of honours at the event with the Queen's bodyguard in Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers, looking on as an orchestra from the Scots Guards played a selection of music.

The investiture marked the end of a bitter row following claims that the ex-007 star had been denied a knighthood in previous years because of his long-term support for the Scottish National Party. It also marked another milestone in the life of a man brought up in a tenement flat in a working class area of Edinburgh and who once worked in the city as a milkman on a horse-drawn float.

Sir Sean has backed the SNP drive for an independent Scotland, both ideologically and financially, for decades.

In February 1998 it was reported that the actor had been denied a knighthood in the previous month's New Year's Honours after the personal intervention of the then Scottish Secretary Mr Donald Dewar. Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Dewar, now Scotland's First Minister, said: "Mr Dewar is always delighted when Scots from whatever walk of life are honoured.

"There is a large number of people receiving honours today from all over Scotland."

Sir Sean is well known for his fierce pride in his Scottish background - one of the two tattoos he had done during a three-year stint in the Royal Navy says "Scotland Forever".

As a child he lived in a four-storey tenement in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh.

From these humble origins he went on to appear as the world's most famous secret agent in seven Bond films, including the classic From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and later won an Oscar for his performance in the gangster film, The Untouchables.
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Author:Hunter, Paul
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 6, 2000
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