Van Morrison, the Belfast-born singer-songwriter, has said he is "hugely honoured" after he was knighted for his unique contribution to music over the past half century

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Sir Van, 69, a six-time Grammy Award winner whose best-known hits include Brown Eyed Girl and Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, heads a list of famous names in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

They include the newly-knighted Sir Lenny Henry, Kevin Spacey, who is made an honorary knight, and the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who finally bested his award season rival Eddie Redmayne with a CBE to Redmayne's OBE.

Sir Van, who is famously publicity-shy, said: "Throughout my career I have always preferred to let my music speak for me, and it is a huge honour to now have that body of work recognised in this way.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fans who have supported me on my musical journey."

Previously awarded the OBE, Sir Van appears in the honours list under his full name, George Ivan Morrison.

Brian Kennedy, a support act who tours with Sir Van, said he had written the soundtrack of Northern Ireland and broadcast it to the world.
"His contribution has been so extraordinary," he said. "They broke the mould when they made Van."