M.I.A. accepted an honour from Queen Elizabeth II as her mother used to stitch the ribbons for the prestigious medals.
The musician, who was born in London but moved back to her parent’s homeland of Sri Lanka as a baby, and only returned to the U.K. aged 11, was named as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Saturday (8Jun19).
M.I.A., real name Mathangi Arulpragasam, is an outspoken critic of the British government but wrote on Instagram that she had accepted the honour to celebrate her mum Kala – as the first job she took after claiming asylum in the U.K. was helping stitch the medals’ ribbons.
“I’m honoured to have this honour, as it means a lot to my Mother,” she explained. “I want to honour what my mum spent many hours of her life doing!
“She is one of the 2 women in England who hand stitched these medals for the last 30 years. After receiving asylum my mum and cousin took this job in 1986 because it was the only non-English speaking manual labour she could find. She spent her life in England hand sewing 1000s of medals for the Queen.”
Explaining her decision further, she added: “No matter how I feel or what I think, my Mother was extremely proud of the job she had. It’s a very unique situation for me where I get to honour her most classiest minimum wage job ever.”
The Paper Planes hitmaker, 42, whose parents were forced to flee Sri Lanka due to her dad’s involvement in the country’s civil war, also posted a picture of her mother in a sewing workshop with a Royal Air Force uniform, proving her claim.
A reluctant recipient of an OBE, new wave rocker Elvis Costello, also stated he was accepting the award to please his mum.