Brian May was named a Knight Bachelor in the first New Year’s Honors List published by British monarch King Charles III.

The elevation means the Queen guitarist is entitled to the honorific “Sir Brian May” or, when with his wife, actress Anita Dobson, the couple should be called “Sir Brian and Lady May.” He’d previously been given a C.B.E. award in 2005, while bandmate Roger Taylor was granted an O.B.E. in 2020.

A statement on May’s website noted that he’d been described as “Musician, Astrophysicist and Animal Welfare Advocate” in the Royal documenation, and that the knighthood had been given for “services to Music and to Charity.” He commented: “I’m happy and grateful to receive this honour. I will regard the knighthood not so much as a reward, but more as a charge – a commission – for me to continue to fight for justice – to be a voice for those who have no voice. I will endeavour to be worthy – to be that Knight in Shining Armour.”

He told Sky News he was “pretty happy” to “end up with a sword on my shoulder” – referring to the physical conferring of the honor – and added that he was “probably most proud of the tiny things that we have achieved for animals. It’s an ongoing thing, and I’m hoping the knighthood will help.”

The title of Knight Bachelor is the oldest rank of knight in British history, stretching back to at least the 13th century. It’s not attached to the more senior Orders of Chivalry such as Knight Commander and Knight Grand Cross, and doesn’t confer the right to add letters after the recipient’s name.

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