Sir Michael Palin resists temptation to crack joke as he is knighted

Sir Michael Palin managed to suppress a joke when collecting the “unbelievable” honour of a knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge for his post-Monty Python career.

The writer and broadcaster was dubbed a knight by William for services to travel, culture and geography, making him the first star of the sketch show to receive the honour.

The pair discussed travel, with Sir Michael resisting the temptation to crack a joke during the investiture at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

“He talked about where I was going next, any parts of the world I really wanted to go that I hadn’t already – to which I normally say Middlesbrough,” the broadcaster said.

Sir Michael Palin knighted
Sir Michael Palin knighted

Instead he went for the far-flung location of Kazakhstan.

So far, Sir Michael is the only Python to be knighted – but he said John Cleese has turned down the chance.

“I think I’ll probably be the only one. John’s turned it down. I think so, yes. He’s rather mysterious about that,” Sir Michael said.

It has not been confirmed that Cleese opted against becoming a knight, but he did refuse a CBE in 1996 and said it was a greater honour to have a lemur named after him than it would be receiving a knighthood or peerage.

Sir Michael acknowledged his honour was for his later work and praised others for recognising talents he was never aware of.

He praised the “rather wonderful” experience of receiving an honour, which he said would have been “unbelievable” to his younger self 50 years ago when the Pythons formed.

“It’s very, very nice to be recognised,” he added.

Vernon Unsworth
Vernon Unsworth

The 76-year-old was joined at the investiture ceremony by Vernon Unsworth, one of the divers who aided in the perilous rescue of a young football team trapped in a Thai cave.

After being made an MBE for his service to cave diving, Mr Unsworth described the experience as “very humbling and fantastic”.

Mr Unsworth, a financial consultant living in Walthamstow, north-west London, was among the team who helped save the 12 boys who became trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave network by a flash flood in June last year.

But the heroics led to an extraordinary feud with Elon Musk, over which he is suing the billionaire businessman for libel.

Mr Unsworth said the Tesla chief’s small submarine he touted for the rescue amounted to a “PR stunt, and Mr Musk retaliated by calling the diver a “pedo” in a tweet.

Mr Unsworth, 64, said: “It doesn’t detract from today. I’ve really got to think about other people and give them the enjoyment they deserve. Today is about today and is not anything else.”

Captain Hannah Graf
Captain Hannah Graf

Captain Hannah Graf, who became the most senior transgender woman in the British Army after beginning her transition during a tour of Afghanistan, collected an MBE for her services to the LGBTQ community in the military.

The 32-year-old member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers praised the UK’s embracing of the trans community in the military – and took aim at Donald Trump’s ban in the US.

“I think they (the US) should absolutely reconsider their position because there are hardworking, highly-skilled, highly-motivated people with deep integrity who are losing their jobs in the US military because of this archaic law.

In contrast, Capt Graf, originally from Cardiff, said William was “very supportive” when discussing her experiences as well as his own of the transgender community in the RAF.