Royalty comes in many forms.
For his supreme contributions to the worlds of music and charity, the astrophysicist and Hall of Fame guitar god Brian May was officially knighted on Tuesday (Mar. 14) by King Charles III. May, known for melodious playing with the iconic British rock band Queen, can now formally add “Sir” to his name in recognition for his half-century of memorable musical compositions and inspiring efforts in the arena of animal rights against fox hunting and badger culling.
As part of the official 2023 New Year Honors appointments, which was the first list issued by King Charles III since his ascent to the throne, Brian May received the knighthood title with a touch of the king’s ceremonial sword and was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
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“This is a kind of license, a kind of commission to carry on doing what I’m doing, and it gives me a bit more power to my elbow,” May told BBC News (opens in new tab) regarding the proud moment. “So I’m very happy about that.”
Prior to hooking up to form Queen in 1970 with frontman Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, May attended Imperial College London in a post-graduate program studying mathematics and physics. Self-doubt about his aptitudes in that area of learning coupled with the rigors of touring interfering with his studies led to May focusing his goals on a musical career in 1974 where he experienced worldwide acclaim with the famous glam rock group over the decades.
May eventually circled back to his love of astronomy and received his Ph.D. from Imperial College London in 2007. Over the years he’s been active in many space-based projects including work on stereoscopic imagery and zodiacal dust, co-founding Asteroid Day, and was attached to NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission in 2015 as part of the science team behind the historic fly-by.