Sir Richard Eyre has condemned terrorists who are trying to stop the “enjoyment and happiness and mutual love” promoted by the British arts industry following the Westminster attack.
The former artistic director of the National Theatre was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for his services to drama just two days after Muslim convert and terrorist Khalid Masood mowed several people down on Westminster Bridge and killed police officer Keith Palmer.
Sir Richard said he is “absolutely certain” that terrorists are taking aim at the worlds of theatre and the arts.
He told the Press Association this was because “the theatre and the arts and the encouragement of enjoyment and happiness and mutual love are precisely what Isis and terrorists are opposed to”.
He praised the London theatre scene for not stopping production following the atrocity on Wednesday, and for having a “spirit which is indomitable”.
Of the ceremony, held just minutes away from Westminster, he said it was “reassuring” to see the amount of security and the great turnout of bystanders outside the palace.
“I feel this is the essence of the spirit of our country, that things go on in spite of the horror,” he said.
Costume designer Jenny Beavan, who was awarded an OBE for her services to drama, said she is glad to see that British people and Londoners in particular carried on in the immediate aftermath of the attack, and that they did not let the terrorists win.
The double Oscar-winner said: “We went straight over Westminster Bridge, everybody is back there – I mean, thank God, otherwise they have won.
“And they absolutely cannot. It would be outrageous.”
She added: “I think you absolutely cannot give in to fear, that would be letting them win.
“My way of getting over things is by taking baby steps or bite-sized chunks, it’s something I learnt a long time ago in the way I work – you can get very overwhelmed.”
Jenny said she is glad to see the “amazing” human spirit around the British capital.
Cyclist Ed Clancy, who also picked up an OBE at the prestigious event, said: “I think what has been so encouraging is to see the defiance and resilience in London, the people and the city in general.”
The Olympian hailed MPs for setting a good example in getting back to work in the wake of the attack, which took place right outside the Houses of Parliament.
“From what I understand just reading the papers, the MPs were back to business, as they put it, the very next day,” he said.
“I think it’s setting a great example and it’s great to see that things are carrying on.”