There were no sword-tappings and no roundtables, but former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was formally named an “Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” at a private ceremony at the British Embassy on Wednesday.
That’s a pretty exclusive club, to which U.S. citizens who’ve won the favor of the British monarchy can belong. The British Embassy announced its new member in October but got around to making it official only Wednesday, before a crowd that included members of Bloomberg’s family, Vice President Biden, OMB Director Shaun Donovan, and fellow honorary knight Colin Powell.
Bloomberg, whose Anglophilic credits include helping found the Tate Modern in London, donating to the restoration of the Kensington Garden Galleries and serving on the board of the Old Vic Theatre, seemed honored but acknowledged his place in the hearts and minds of royal subjects. “I would say that this event will also be the most exciting story in the British press this month, but I’ll settle for second place behind the royal baby,” he said, according to prepared remarks.
And he joked about the fact that his new designation doesn’t earn him the right to be called “Sir” — a title that’s reserved for Brits. Rather, he can simply add “KBE” after his name to indicate the distinction. “Now, back in New York, a friend of mine was reminding me: This is only an honorary knighthood – and it does not, in fact, make me either a knight or a commander… nor does it come with the title, ‘Sir.’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Thank you, Sir Paul McCartney.’ ”
Ambassador Peter Westmacott praised Bloomberg’s “unique dedication to melding private ventures with public good.”