Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey Star, 79, Honored by Queen Elizabeth II—See the Photos!

This isn't the first time she has received an honor from the British Monarchy

By Corinne Heller Oct 18, 2014 5:43 PMTags
Dame Maggie Smith, Queen Elizabeth II Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Downton Abbey's most prestigious matriarch has been honored by the entire United Kingdom's...again.

Dame Maggie Smith, a 79-year-old Oscar-winning actress who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham on the British TV series, was honored on Friday by none other than Queen Elizabeth II, who made her a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor in recognition of her 60 years in theater, cinema and TV at a ceremony in Windsor Castle.

The queen, the 88-year-old grandmother of Prince William and Prince Harry, has met and also honored Smith, also known for her role as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films, before. In 1989, the actress was made a dame commander of the Order of the British Empire, which is similar to a knighthood and gives her the title of Dame, the female equivalent of Sir. Michael Gambon, who replayed Richard Harris as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films following the latter actor's 2002 death, was honored at the same ceremony.

As of Friday, the actress can also add a "CH" after her name.

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Smith is the 47th person to receive the Companions of Honor title. Other famous recipients include The Lord of the Rings and X-Men star Sir Ian McKellen, actress Dame Judi Dench and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Smith made her onscreen acting debut in 1955 and during the next three decades, appeared mostly on British TV shows as well as in films such as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which garnered her her first Oscar, in 1970. She won her second Academy Award in 1979 for her performance in the film California Suite.

In 1990, she played Granny Wendy, grandmother of Robin Williams' adult Peter Pan character, in Steven Spielberg's the now-cult favorite children's film Hook. Two years later, she portrayed strict convent leader Mother Superior in the musical comedy film Sister Act, appearing alongside Whoopi Goldberg. She reprised her role in a 1993 sequel.

Smith went on to appear in films such as The Secret Garden and The First Wives Club. In 2001, she made her debut as McGonagall in the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in her native England). She reprised that role in all seven sequels.

She began playing powerful aristocrat and matriarch Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in Downton Abbey when the show debuted in 2010. She has been nominated for an Emmy for her role every year since and has won two. She also won an Emmy for her performance in the 2003 TV movie My House in Embria.

In 2011, she starred in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and reprises her role as Muriel Donnelly in a sequel, set to be released in 2015. She is currently filming a new movie, The Lady in the Van.