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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/22/2011

Folger Shakespeare Library director Gail Paster gets cool farewell gift: A honor from Queen Elizabeth

British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Folger Shakespeare Library Board of Governors Chair Mark T. Ruxin, and outgoing Library Director Gail Kern Paster at last week’s gala. (James R. Brantley)

After nine years running the Folger Shakespeare Library, director Gail Paster’s farewell party last week was full of surprises: The Old Reading Room was renamed after her, as well as an endowment fund for education programs. Oh. . . and Queen Elizabeth II is giving her an award that will be personally presented by Prince Charles.

The Prince of Wales is making an official trip to Washington (without wife Camilla this time) from May 3 to May 5, just days after his son, Prince William, ties the knot. He’ll meet with President Obama, deliver a speech on organic farming at Georgetown University, and give Paster the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). “It’s a great honor and I’m really thrilled,” she told us.

The honorary award, announced by British ambassador Nigel Sheinwald at the library’s annual gala, is part of Britain's complicated honors system. A spokeswoman for the embassy wasn’t sure what it represented; according to the official British monarchy website, the order “recognizes distinguished service to the arts and sciences” public service, and other charitable work.

Paster said she hasn’t received any details about the presentation ceremony: “No clue. I’m sure I’ll get instructions and I’m sure I’ll follow them to the letter.”

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 04/22/2011

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