Michael Sheen has returned his OBE so that he can air views on the monarchy without being branded a “hypocrite”.
The actor, who received the honour in 2009 for services to drama, said the decision came after researching the history of his native Wales for his 2017 Raymond Williams lecture.
Speaking in an interview with journalist Owen Jones, Sheen said he decided not to announce his decision in 2017, fearing some people would find it insulting.
“Raymond Williams famously wrote a piece called ‘Who Speaks For Wales’ in 1971 – and I took that as my starting point for the lecture as in who speaks for Wales now?”, Sheen said. “And in my research, to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history.”
He continued: “By the time I finished typing that lecture… I remember sitting there and thinking ‘well I have a choice’ either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and give the OBE back. I wanted to do the lecture so I gave my OBE back.”
Sheen went on to explain that he meant “absolutely no disrespect” by returning the OBE, and that he had felt “incredibly honoured” to have received it. He noted that it had helped his career both inside and outside of acting.
“I just realised I’d be a hypocrite if I said the things I was going to say in the lecture about the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state,” he concluded.
A new season of the popular sketch show aired on October 28 on Sky One and Now TV and saw the return of host Alan Carr alongside team captains Michael Sheen and Jennifer Saunders.