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Brit Queen Honors Poet Ted Hughes

October 16, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ Ted Hughes, Britain’s poet laureate, received a personal honor Friday from Queen Elizabeth II.

Hughes, whose most recent book is ``Birthday Letters,″ a volume of poems chronicling his courtship and marriage to the American poet Sylvia Plath, was invested with the insignia of a member of the Order of Merit.

The Order of Merit, founded in 1902 by King Edward VII, is awarded by the sovereign as a personal gift to individuals of exceptional distinction.

Membership is limited to the sovereign and 24 other people, as well as additional honorary foreign members.

Current members include former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, opera star Dame Joan Sutherland and the actor Sir John Gielgud. South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela is an honorary member.

Hughes, 68, has been poet laureate since 1984 and has composed works for the queen’s 60th birthday and Queen Mother Elizabeth’s 90th birthday.

The poems he has written for royal occasions are collected in a volume called ``Rain-Charm for the Duchy and other Laureate Poems.″

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