Dame Edna? It's 'Commander Edna' Now

After years of cracking up audiences as a "dame," Australian Barry Humphries will officially become a "commander."

Humphries, whose feminine alter-ego calls herself Dame Edna Everage, is honored in the latest "Queen's Birthday Honours List" as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE.

The list of honorees becoming CBE's or receiving other titles also includes author Salman Rushdie, who is being knighted, several soccer stars, journalist Christiane Amanpour, a set of foster parents who have cared for 100 children, and a host of others being recognized for myriad accomplishments.

Humphries last appeared on Broadway in 2000. In spite of his dual personalities, he is getting only one order, so some are wondering who will show up to receive it -- Barry in pants, or Dame Edna in a ball gown.

"If Dame Edna turns up as Dame Edna, I think that will be the first time that ever happened," laughed Robert Lacey, a royal biographer and consultant for ABC News' "Good Morning America."

Awe-ful Occasion

According to Lacey, people tend to be awed by the occasion, so he does not expect Dame Edna to show up with her purple bouffant.

Some honorees, he said, are so nervous they have a practice session so they can perfect their bows and curtsies before seeing Her Majesty, or her frequent fill-ins Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

"You get very careful coaching," Lacey said. "It's quite an impressive occasion."

The queen also does her homework. She sorts through index cards with information on each honoree, highlighting certain words. During the ceremony, an attendant will whisper those cue words into the queen's ear, prompting her to ask the honoree a question. Only those whose answers impress the queen get a second question.

It's All Politics

But the queen is not actually responsible for honoring Dame Edna and the others. The prime minister draws up the list based on recommendations from fellow politicians.

"There is a feeling in Britain that the prime minister curries favor and popularity by choosing sports people and celebrities," said Lacey. This is Prime Minister Tony Blair's last list, and Lacey says it's a chance for Blair to show favor for those who helped him during his political tenure.

Whoever chose him, Humphries told The Sunday Mail he's excited to be called "commander" and hopes it help get him a good table in restaurants.

There has been no comment yet from Dame Edna, but her fans know she is not likely to be impressed by any honor less than a royal title.

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