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Alan Cumming reveals he ‘returned’ his Order of the British Empire

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ABC Audio

Alan Cumming revealed in a message celebrating his birthday that he recently returned his Order of the British Empire award.

“Today is my 58th birthday and I want to tell you about something I recently did for myself. I returned my OBE,” the two-time Tony Award-winning actor shared Friday on Instagram.

Cumming said he was grateful to have received the distinction from Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.

He recalled being “shocked and delighted” when receiving the honor, adding that it “makes me very proud to be British, and galvanised as an American.”

Cumming said the award was given to him not just for his job as an actor, but for his activism for LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. He referenced the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, both instituted during Bill Clinton‘s presidency, as being issues at the time.

Both have since been repealed by President Barack Obama in 2011 and President Joe Biden in 2022, respectively.

Cumming noted that the queen’s death in September “and the ensuing conversations about the role of monarchy and especially the way the British Empire profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples across the world really opened my eyes.”

He also said the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States has made the “great good” the award stood for 14 years ago “now less potent than the misgivings I have being associated with the toxicity of empire.”

“So I returned my award, explained my reasons and reiterated my great gratitude for being given it in the first place,” the Traitors host said. “I’m now back to being plain old Alan Cumming again. Happy birthday to me!”

ABC News has reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment.

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