“I hope that you will allow me to single out for special mention today one of your most distinguished Senators, known in every continent and a great friend. Northern Ireland is today at peace, more Americans have health care, more children around the world are going to school, and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of, Senator Edward Kennedy,” announced the Rt Hon. Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, who was addressing a joint meeting of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
“And so today, having talked to him last night, I want to announce that Her Majesty The Queen, has awarded an honorary Knighthood for Sir Edward Kennedy. This was received with applause, cheers and a standing ovation. The broad smiles on the faces of the Speaker and the Vice President indicated how well that was received. (You may watch this on the following short video, towards the end)
“This honor is moving and personal,” Mr. Kennedy said Wednesday in a statement, “A reflection not only of my public life, but of things that profoundly matter to me as an individual. I accept this honor in the spirit in which it is given, with a continuing commitment to be a voice for the voiceless and for the shared ideals of freedom and fairness which are so fundamental to the character of our two countries.”
The Times of London explains that Mr. Kennedy cannot actually go by “Sir Ted,” because he is not a British subject, but rather he will have “K.B.E.,” for “Knight of the British Empire,” after his name. ( Actually KBE does not mean Knight of the British Empire. It means Knight Commander in that particular order.)
Mr. Brown went on to re-affirm the centrality of the dominant English speaking powers, the US and the UK , in the leadership of the world.
“Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice-President,” he declared “I come in friendship to renew, for new times, our special relationship founded upon our shared history, our shared values and, I believe, our shared futures.”
The announcement of the knighthood was greeted with applause and a standing ovation. How sad it is that in similar circumstances Mr. Rudd would not be able to announce the award of a knighthood in the Order of Australia. An AC is hardly the same.
But a French President could announce a French knighthood.
The suppression of the awards of Knight or Dame in the Order of Australia was an incomprehensible decision.
As we have argued here, a sensible arrangement could have been made concerning the accolade to accommodate those who do not wish to have the title. No party objects to knighthoods, otherwise so many prominent politicians would not have accepted them.
It seems only British and Australian knighthoods are unnacceptable in Canberra.