Dame Diana Rigg Was Knighted By Queen Elizabeth II For Her Contributions To Theatre And Film

Date December 5, 2017

From theater to movies and television, without a doubt, actress Diana Rigg has had an amazing career.

Well known for playing Emma Peel in the 1960s TV series and Olenna Tyrell in 'Game of Thrones' (2013-2017), Diana Rigg could be considered one of the greatest English actresses of the 20th century.


She has received multiple awards, among which was The Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given to her in 1988 at the Queen's New Years Honours for her services to drama.

A great feat for her, and for anyone really, who hails from a market town in Yorkshire.

Diana Rigg's Early Life

Rigg was born in Doncaster, now in South Yorkshire, to Louis Rigg, a railway engineer, and Beryl Hilda.


Her father found employment as a railway engineer in Bikaner, India, which led to Diana living there from 2 months of age till she was 8. Her second language in those early years was Hindi and to this day, she enjoys using her knowledge of Hindi when ordering Indian food.

On return to England, she was sent to boarding school, The Moravian School in Fullneck, where she recalls feeling like a fish out of water, but believes may have played a bigger role in shaping her character than India did. She went on to train as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from 1955 - 1957.


Career And Achievements

Rigg cut her teeth in acting, starting with the RADA theatre production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the York Festival in 1957. She would then appear in the British 1960s television series 'The Avengers', playing the character of secret agent, Mrs. Emma Peel, and also played Tracy Bond opposite George Lazenby's James Bond in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' (1969).

Till date, she remains the only Bond girl to successfully drag James Bond to the altar, despite not liking her outfits. She was quoted as saying, "I didn't like my Bond Girl outfits. The designer was a friend of the directors and I thought they were too boring and middle-aged for my character." But apparently, James Bond was a fan of them.


Her return to the theater was in the Ronald Millar's play 'Abelard and Heloïse' in London in 1970, and she made her Broadway debut with the play in 1971, for which she earned the first of three Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Play. Her acting career took off from there.

She has appeared in a wide range of movies, television and theatre roles over the years, earning multiple Emmy award nominations and winning quite a few of them, chief of which is The Commander of The Order of The British Empire (1988) and The Dame Commander of The Order of The British Empire received from Queen Elizabeth II for her services to drama.

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The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life. That's the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic. - Diana Riggs


The actress apparently doesn't take herself too seriously. Though often portrayed in films and TV as austere, abrasive, and tough, she has shown on multiple occasions that she has a lighter side.

Take, for example, the title of her 1983 book - 'No Turn Unstoned: The Worst Ever Theatrical Reviews' is enough to make anyone chuckle, even if for just a second.


But Rigg is no pushover either. She sued Daily Mail for libel in 2002 when it was suggested in an article that she was a retired recluse, bitter over the collapse of her second marriage to theatre producer Archibald Stirling. She was quoted as saying:

I had never said those words. I had sworn not to talk about my marriage breakup. But those words had a terrible effect on me. I read them, sobbing, thinking about my marriage.

A smoker, since age 18, Rigg would eventually give up the 20-a-day habit at age 72, saying she quit because she "had to."

Her most popular role in recent times was as the aptly-named Queen of Thorns, Lady Olenna Tyrell in 'Game of Thrones'. And at 79, the actress shows no signs of slowing down. "I don't want to retire," she said. "I never want to retire. What's the point of it?"

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Queen Elizabeth Queen Elizabeth II