Her award, for services to music, caps 12 months in which the 25-year-old singer won an Oscar for her James Bond theme song and gave birth to her first child.
The twice-yearly royal honors lists reward hundreds of people for services to their community or national life. Most go to people who are not in the limelight, but there is also a sprinkling of famous faces.
Adele wasn't the only honoree connected to "Skyfall," the 23rd James Bond thriller and the most lucrative film in the series' 50-year history. Cinematographer Roger Deakins was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in recognition of a career that has gained him 10 Oscar nominations for films including "No Country for Old Men," ''Revolutionary Road" and "The Shawshank Redemption."
The list includes a knighthood for Tony Robinson, an actor and political activist best known as dim sidekick Baldrick from the comic TV series "Blackadder." He was honored for his political work and public service.
His "Blackadder" co-star Rowan Atkinson — best known around the world as bumbling Mr. Bean — received a CBE. The same honor went to actress Claire Bloom, whose career stretches from a film appearance opposite Charlie Chaplin to a role in "The King's Speech."
Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, who creates elaborately decorated and sometimes explicit ceramics, also was named a CBE.
"I suppose I'm surprised that the tentacles of the establishment reach into my particular pond of culture," Perry said. The artist, who sometimes makes public appearances as female alter-ego Claire, said he would be "putting together a nice outfit" for his investiture ceremony.
Jackie Collins, author of racy page-turners, was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, for services to fiction and to charity. There were also OBEs for Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ; fashion editor Hilary Alexander; and novelist Kate Mosse, author of the best-selling "Labyrinth."
Genre-crossing British musician P.J. Harvey received an MBE, as did Welsh comedian Rob Brydon and novelist Joanne Harris, author of "Chocolat."
Honorees included several people behind last year's successful London Olympics. Thomas Heatherwick, who designed the copper-petal Olympic Cauldron, received a CBE, and there was a knighthood for sculptor Anish Kapoor, who created the opinion-dividing Orbit tower — a 380-foot (115-meter) mass of twisted red steel at London's Olympic Park.
There was also a knighthood for Wales-born Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Moritz, chairman of Sequoia Capital LLP, who last year donated 75 million pounds ($117 million) to help poor students attend Oxford University. Oxford English professor and literary critic Hermione Lee was made a dame, the female equivalent of a knight.
Also among the hundreds honored were a veteran beekeeper, a boat-builder who created a barge for the queen's Diamond Jubilee, and a friend of squirrels. Helen Butler, founder of the Red Squirrel Trust, received an MBE for her work conserving the rodents' habitat on the Isle of Wight off England's south coast.
Britain's honors are bestowed twice a year by the monarch — at New Year's and on her official birthday in June — but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.
In descending order, the honors are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and MBE. Knights are addressed as "sir" or "dame." Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names.