Why Olivia Newton-John Was Given a Damehood by Queen Elizabeth

·2 min read

Just a few years before Olivia Newton-John's death at age 73, she was awarded with the highest honors that a civilian can receive in the U.K.

The singer-songwriter and actress, who was born in England and raised primarily in the Commonwealth country of Australia, officially became a dame at the 2020 New Years Honours Services. She received the honor, which is the female equivalent of a knight, for her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment from Queen Elizabeth.

"I am extremely excited, honored and grateful beyond words to be included with such an esteemed group of women who have received this distinguished award before me," Newton-John said at the time, according to the Press Association. "As a girl born in Cambridge, I am very proud of my British ancestry and so appreciative to be recognized in this way by the United Kingdom."

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She also received the Companion of the Order of Australia in June 2019.

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Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John after receiving her OBE at Buckingham Palace, London, 13th March 1979.
Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John after receiving her OBE at Buckingham Palace, London, 13th March 1979.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Olivia Newton-John

In 1992, Newton-John revealed her first diagnosis with breast cancer. Her healthy journey, which included a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction, ultimately led to the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne. In the decades that followed Newton-John become an advocate for cancer awareness and research.

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John

John Shearer/WireImage Olivia Newton-John

Before becoming a dame, Newton-John was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1979 New Year Honours. She received the award from Queen Elizabeth during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in March 1979, proudly holding it up for photos following the event.

In addition to meeting the Queen, Newton-John crossed paths with Princess Diana at the 1988 concert held at the Entertainment Center in Sydney.

The Royals meet the stars at the Entertainment centre tonight.Princess Diana talking to (L to R) Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton John at the Entertainment center. January 25, 1988.
The Royals meet the stars at the Entertainment centre tonight.Princess Diana talking to (L to R) Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton John at the Entertainment center. January 25, 1988.

Nigel Scot McNeil/Fairfax Media via Getty Olivia Newton-John and Princess Diana

Newton-John's husband John Easterlingannounced her death Monday on her social media channels, using her dame title.

"Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time," he said.

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"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer," he continued. "Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation."