Michael Sheen Image Credit: AP

Welsh actor Michael Sheen has given back his OBE in order to be able to criticise the British monarchy without seeming like a hypocrite.

The ‘Good Omens’ actor was talking to journalist Owen Jones when he revealed he had quietly returned the Order of the British Empire, which he received in 2009 for services to drama, in 2017.

His move came after he researched the history of Wales, and its fraught relationship with England, for his 2017 Raymond Williams lecture.

“By the time I’d finished writing that lecture, I remember sitting there going: ‘Well, I have a choice. I either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and I have to give my OBE back’,” he told the Guardian columnist.

The actor says he did not mean to insult anyone by the gesture.

“I didn’t mean any disrespect but 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,” Sheen said.

Other celebrities who have refused or returned a royal honour include chef Nigella Lawson, actor Bill Nighy, comedian John Oliver and late singer David Bowie.