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Gravesend-born cutting edge fashion designer honoured

PUBLISHED: 09:38 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 January 2011

Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett meets with then PM Margaret Thatcher sporting anti-war slogans on her clothes

Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett meets with then PM Margaret Thatcher sporting anti-war slogans on her clothes

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The cutting edge fashion designer who once greeted former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing an anti-war t-shirt says she is shocked to be named on the New Year's Honours List.

Gravesend-born Katharine Hamnett, a leading fashion designer who pioneered clothing carrying politically motivated slogans in the 1980s, explained the awarding of a CBE caused a moral dilemma for her.

She said: “I do think with the cuts, how much do they (the royal family) cost and how much are they actually worth? I do think they should pay their own way, and I worry about how much these awards cost.

“If at the end of the day the choice is between two more horses to pull a gilded carriage and five university places I would pick the university places every time.”

Professor Hamnett, 63, whose grandparents lived in Greenhithe, greeted Ms Thatcher in 1984 wearing a t-shirt denouncing the use of nuclear missiles while Britain was at war in the Falklands,. She has also been vocal in criticism of the former Labour government over Iraq, and of the coalition over proposed cuts.

She said: “I was surprised with the award really considering my standpoint with both parties. It is good to see the importance of ethical and environmental fashion being recognised and the award provides a good platform. At a time like this when the government seems determined to take away the public voice, being given a platform is not something to turn down.”

Spending much of her childhood following her father as he was posted around the country as an RAF pilot, Professor Hamnett revealed she has an unusual love for for one of north Kent’s less obvious attractions.

“I love that smell at low tide, of the water. To most people it is probably off-putting but it reminds me of childhood and innocence whenever I go back,” she said.

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