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David Attenborough wins order of merit

TV host receives citation from Queen Elizabeth II

TV naturalist David Attenborough received the prestigious Order of Merit award Friday from Queen Elizabeth II.

The order is a special distinction awarded by the queen to people who have shown exceptional merit in the arts, learning, literature and science or public service.

“How could anyone believe they actually deserved something like this?” Attenborough said. “I can only think that it is because I have been able to reach so many people through television.”

The award was presented at Buckingham Palace.

Attenborough, 79, can now use the letters “OM” after his name.

The prominent conservationist has written, produced and hosted natural history TV programs for 50 years. His 13-part series “Life on Earth” has been seen by millions of people.

Attenborough, who was granted a knighthood in 1985, studied zoology before joining the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1952. He went on to hold a string of BBC management posts in the 1960s.