Sean Connery Knighted in Scotland

E D I N B U R G H, July 5, 2000 -- Veteran James Bond actor Sean Connery was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II today, two years after he reportedly was denied a knighthood because of his passionate Scottish nationalism.

Wearing full Highland dress — the dark-green MacLeod tartan — “Sir Sean” emerged from the hourlong ceremony at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace to meet reporters and cheering crowds who had gathered to see him.

His wife Micheline and brother Neil were by his side.

“It’s one of the proudest days of my life,” said a beaming Connery, 69, showing off the gold medal on its bright red sash. “It means a great deal for it to happen in Scotland.”

Today’s ceremony was the only time in the year that the queen awards honors in Scotland.

Long-Awaited Prize

Connery’s knighthood was announced in the queen’s New Year’s honors list. But many believe the Hollywood star should have been honored before now.

In 1998, he was at the heart of a bitter political row after it was widely reported the ruling Labor Party had blocked plans to award him a knighthood.

The 007 actor is a high-profile supporter of the Scottish National Party, now the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament, and a vocal campaigner for an independent Scotland.

But Sir Sean refused to comment about his long wait.

Other Scotsmen Honored

The return to his native Edinburgh for the knighthood is a poignant reminder of Connery’s extraordinary rise from a poor upbringing to global superstardom as the suave British secretagent James Bond.

He grew up in a four-story tenement in Edinburgh and worked as a milkman on a horse-drawn float before serving a three-year stint in the Royal Navy.

His move into acting followed, and he quickly shot to stardom 40 years ago in the first Bond film, Dr No.

But despite his love for Scotland — he sports a “Scotland Forever” tattoo from his Navy days — the star now lives in Marbella, Spain.

Among the other 88 people receiving honors was British 800-meter Olympic gold medalist Steve Ovett, who was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to athletics.

Former Scots rugby scrum half and captain Gary Armstrong won an MBE (Member of the British Empire) award for his services to the sport.