Hogwarts to Windsor as Dame Maggie honoured

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Oscar-winning actress Dame Maggie Smith has been awarded a prestigious honour by the Queen in recognition of a glittering career on stage, screen and television.

The 79-year-old, famed for her roles in Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter films, was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour and joins an illustrious group of recipients who include Professor Stephen Hawking and Bradford-born painter David Hockney.

She was presented with the award during an investiture at Windsor Castle yesterday.

For a generation of TV viewers, Dame Maggie is now inextricably linked with her role as the Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey, while fans of the Harry Potter films will recognise her as Professor McGonagal.

But she has had an extensive career stretching back to the 1950s. Her stage performances have continually drawn acclaim and she has collected numerous awards for roles in plays such as Hedda Gabler, Three Sisters and Private Lives.

She earned the first of six Oscar nominations in 1965 for best supporting actress in Othello, going on to win a best actress trophy four years later for her commanding performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

She won a further Oscar in 1978 with the supporting actress prize for California Suite.