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Dame Maggie Smith to receive honour from the Queen today

Actress Dame Maggie Smith will receive the Companion of Honour from the Queen today at Windsor Castle. It's one of Britain's highest awards- and is in recognition of the six decades the star- well known for her roles in Downton Abbey and Sister Act- has spent on screen and stage.

Dame Maggie Smith at Sandringham Flower Show 2013 Credit: Ian West/PA

The Order of the Companions of Honour was instituted in 1917 by George V at the same time as the Order of the British Empire was founded, and it is sometimes regarded as a junior class of the Order of Merit.

The Order consists of the Sovereign and 65 ordinary members.

Foreigners are admitted only as honorary members and certain additional members are appointed by statute in commemoration of special occasions.

The Order is conferred on men and women for recognised services of national importance.

Prime Ministers of Commonwealth countries may also make nominations, and the Order includes a number of Commonwealth figures.

Recipients include painter Lucian Freud, Professor Stephen Hawking, naturalist Sir David Attenborough, painter David Hockney, historian Dr Eric Hobsbawm, politicians Sir John Major and Lord Patten of Barnes, General John de Chastelain, dramatist Harold Pinter, conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, the Reverend Chad Varah, and scientist Professor Anthony Pawson.

The order confers no knighthood or other status, but recipients of this one-class order are entitled to use the post-nominal letters 'CH'.

The Order's badge is a gold oval-shaped medallion with a representation of an oak tree.

Hanging from a branch is a shield of the Royal Arms, and on the right of it is a representation of a knight in armour mounted on a horse.

The badge, surmounted by an imperial crown, has a blue-enamelled border bearing the motto of the Order, 'In action faithful and in honour clear'.

Dame Maggie Smith at Theatre Royal Haymarket 2007 Credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Also receiving an award will be the head of the Military Wives Choir- who enlisted the help of choirmaster Gareth Malone to involve thousands of wives and servicewomen and raise millions of pounds for charity.

Her Majesty the Queen expected to visit the Tower of London today

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, is expected to visit the Tower of London today.

She is due to lay a wreath at the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' poppies installation- and attend a chapel service.

'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' poppies installation Credit: PA

Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies have progressively filled the Tower's moat. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the First World War.

Poppy installation at Tower of London Credit: PA

The last poppy will be placed on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014. The poppies that make up the installation are currently being sold to raise millions of pounds which will be shared equally amongst six service charities in the UK.


Anne Wafula-Strike will be awarded her MBE at Buckingham Palace today

Harlow Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike Credit: ITV News

The sportswoman and British Polio Fellowship ambassador, originally from Kenya, has been given the honour for her services to disability, sport and charity work

2012 BT Paralympic World Cup Credit: PA

On her internet blog, she described the award as 'a huge honour and blessing'- saying it's a recognition not just for her but for everyone who's given her opportunities to give back to society.

Invictus Games could move beyond London

Prince Harry takes part in an exhibition match of wheelchair rugby during the Invictus Games in London Credit: Anwar Hussein/EMPICS Entertainment

Following the success of this year's Invictus Games, which end this evening, Prince Harry has said it could possibly move out of London for a follow-up event.

The stands have been full, with crowds turning out to support competitors, many of whom have missing limbs or other serious injuries.

Harry launched the contest earlier this year, after being inspired by a similar initiative in the US, and he hopes it will support competitors' rehabilitation and raise awareness of those injured serving their countries.

The Prince said yesterday he was "over the moon" by how the Games had gone and suggested it could be staged next year outside of London.

He said: "We've now got America showing interest in 2016 and Canada showing interest in 2017 so the question is what do we do next year?

"I personally, along with a couple of other people on the board, would love to keep it in the UK, maybe head north whether it be Glasgow, whether it be Sheffield, whether it be Manchester."


Music stars line up for Invictus closing ceremony

Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs performing during V Festival at Weston Park in Staffordshire earlier this year Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Acts including the Foo Fighters and the Kaiser Chiefs will take to the stage tonight for the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in London.

The competition was organised by Prince Harry after he was inspired by a similar event in America.

The Vamps, Rizzle Kicks, James Blunt, Ellie Goulding, Ryan Adams and Military Wives Choirs are among the other acts to feature on the bill.

'I'm truly sorry' say royal hoax Australian DJ

A DJ who made a hoax call to a hospital caring for the Duchess of Cambridge broke down in tears as she apologised to the family of a nurse who committed suicide after it was broadcast.

Australian radio DJ Mel Greig Credit: PA

Melanie Greig posed as the Queen during the call in which private medical information about the pregnant Kate was disclosed in December 2012. Jacintha Saldanha who took the call, hanged herself three days later as the call made headlines around the world.

Australian radio DJ Mel Greig Credit: PA

Addressing the mother-of-two's family after an inquest today ruled her death was a suicide, Ms Greig sobbed as she told them and the packed courtroom:

I really just wanted to say I am truly sorry, I've wanted to say that for so long.

This tragedy will always stay with me and serve as a constant reminder.

To the second nurse involved, I am so deeply sorry for what you have had to endure. I pray you have found the strength to live on as best you can.

I was always concerned about the wellbeing of both nurses and I wish I'd tried harder to stop that prank from being aired.

– Mel Greig
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