London: Trinidad-born campaigner Floella Benjamin was on Friday named as one of six new members in a diverse list chosen to join the elite Order of Merit by the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Buckingham Palace announced the nominees, who will be appointed by King Charles III, against a backdrop of criticism about a lack of diversity in the royal household.
Charles´s youngest son, Prince Harry, and his mixed-race wife, Meghan, accused the royal family of racism in a television interview after they moved to the United States in 2020.
The Order of Merit -- appointment to which is in the personal gift of the sovereign -- is limited to just 24 living members.
It currently includes the conservationist and television presenter David Attenborough, the artist David Hockney and former Australian prime minister John Howard.
The order is presented to leaders in the arts, learning, literature, science and other areas such as public service.
Benjamin, 73, who came to Britain from Trinidad as a child, made her name as a children´s television presenter, actress and author, including of a book about her experiences of immigration that is now used in schools.
She sits in the upper house of parliament, where she speaks on issues including diversity.
Notably, she helped organise a national monument in honour of the Windrush generation of migrants who came to Britain from the Caribbean.
The name comes from the MV Empire Windrush ship, one of the vessels that brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands to help fill UK labour shortages after World War II.
The monument at London´s Waterloo Station, where the migrants arrived by train, was unveiled by Prince William earlier this year.
Joining Benjamin in the order is geneticist and cell biologist Paul Nurse, a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001.
Alongside him is molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Others are the Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, who designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, and Canadian Margaret MacMillan, professor of history at the University of Toronto and emeritus professor of international history at Oxford University.
The sixth new member will be Elizabeth Anionwu, the UK´s first sickle-cell and thalassaemia nurse specialist. (AFP)
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