Michael Sheen handed back his OBE so he could air views on royal family

Hollywood star Michael Sheen has revealed that he handed back his OBE so he could air his views on the royal family without being a "hypocrite".

The 51-year-old actor received the accolade back in the 2009 New Year's Honours for his services to drama.

However, he decided to return the prestigious award after researching the history of his native Wales for his 2017 Raymond Williams lecture.

The Masters of Sex star, who is from Port Talbot, South Wales, said he decided to to announce his decision at the time because he thought people would find it insulting.

Speaking to newspaper columnist Owen Jones this week, Sheen said: "Raymond Williams famously wrote a piece called Who Speaks For Wales in 1971 – and I took that as my starting point for the lecture as in who speaks for Wales now?

"And in my research, to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history.

"By the time I finished typing that lecture… I remember sitting there and thinking 'Well I have a choice' either don't give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and give the OBE back."

He added: "I wanted to do the lecture so I gave my OBE back."

The father of two said he meant "absolutely no disrespect" in returning the OBE, and that he had felt "incredibly honoured" to have received it.

He went on to add that it had helped his career both inside and outside of acting.

Sheen said: "I just realised 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."

The Queen actor explained that Wales and England's shared history was still a point of contention for many Welsh people.

He referenced the decision to rename the second Severn Crossing the Prince of Wales bridge in 2018, with a petition against the move receiving more than 30,000 signatures.

"These things have power," Sheen said.

"The idea of the Prince of Wales and that being an Englishman and the history of that.

"Why Edward made his son the Prince of Wales (was) because it was part of keeping down the Welsh rebellion.

"These are things that happened so long ago but these things are resonant."

Sheen suggested it would be a "really meaningful and powerful gesture for the Prince of Wales title to no longer be held in the same way as it has before".

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