London (CNN)Twice a year, the UK publishes its honors list recognizing those who have accomplished excellence in a spectrum of pursuits, including both celebrities and non-famous faces.
12 celebrities who turned down a British honor
This year Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton was knighted, musician Craig David was appointed MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), while 803 of the 1,239 people recognized were named for their work in their communities, with many honored for their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, not everyone is keen to accept the honor that has been bestowed on them, either at New Year's or for the Queen's birthday.
Examples include David Bowie, John Lennon and -- more recently -- Michael Sheen, who revealed this week he returned his OBE in 2017.
This year, it was reported that some members of the honors committee favored removing the word "empire" from the awards. In the past, some people have declined the awards over their links to colonialism and slavery.
On Wednesday, Helen Ewen, head of the Honours Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, said that the honors list will retain its name, but said that efforts had been made to make the list more inclusive, the PA Media news agency reported.
"There are no plans currently to make changes in this area -- you've seen today that we've again seen a growth in the number of individuals in black and ethnic minority communities on this list, which we strongly welcome," Ewen said.
"We are also doing a huge amount of work to build on the public nominations and to make sure that the nominations coming forward help us keep these lists representative of UK society in its widest form," she added.
Just this week, actor Michael Sheen revealed he had returned his OBE in 2017 following his own research into the relationship of his native Wales and the British state, after being asked to deliver a lecture themed around "Who speaks for Wales."
"I didn't mean any disrespect but I just realized 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 said.
George the Poet
Artist George the Poet said last year that he turned down an MBE because of the "pure evil" of the British Empire.
The spoken word artist, whose real name is George Mpanga, revealed on his podcast that he initially said that he would accept the honor when asked by a friend, but when he thought about it further, he felt "a burning sensation in my chest."
"I see myself as student, admirer and friend of Britain, however the colonial trauma inflicted on the children of Africa, entrenched across our geo-political and macro-economic realities, prevents me from accepting the title Member of the British Empire."
John le Carré