M.I.A. receives MBE and pays tribute to her mother

The musician received the award from Prince William and thanked her mother, who was responsible for stitching the awards for the past 30 years

M.I.A. was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last June to receive an MBE, or the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Despite the controversy of the ‘British Empire’ part of that title, M.I.A. said she had a specific reason for accepting the honour – her mother and cousin, who came to England in 1986 as refugees from Sri Lanka, have both been responsible for stitching the awards over the past three decades.

“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,” M.I.A. wrote on Instagram at the time. “She spent her life in England hand sewing 1000s of medals for the Queen. No matter how I feel or what I think, my mother was extremely proud of the job she had.”

Yesterday (January 14), M.I.A. received the award from Prince William, and wrote a new statement about her mother on Instagram. “Having received this medal means so much on so many levels,” she wrote. “My mother, a working class refugee who received asylum in England in the 80s, along with my cousin, are the only two women responsible for hand stitching these medals for the Palace. They held that position for 30 years.”

“Today I’m accepting this in honor for my mother who worked for minimum wage to give us a better life. As a working class first generation immigrant it’s great to be recognised for my contribution. Having freedom to speak my truth and to do it through music has helped me speak for those who do not have those privileges. I will continue fight for those who are silenced or persecuted by others.”

Take a look at photos shared by M.I.A. above and below.