12 Famous Non-Brits Who Have Been Named Honorary Knights and Dames

Queen Elizabeth II attends The Order of the Garter Service in 2010 at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry and was founded by Edward III in 1348.
Queen Elizabeth II attends The Order of the Garter Service in 2010 at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in Windsor, England. The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry and was founded by Edward III in 1348.
Alastair Grant/WPA-Pool/Getty Images

Although chivalric orders for military members date back to the medieval period, King George V ushered in a new era for knights and dames when he established The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1917. Appointees to the OBE don't have to see battle to be on the receiving end of the ceremonial sword tap (or its rather dull modern equivalent, the firm handshake), so long as they make a significant contribution to the arts, sciences, or any charitable organization outside the civil service.

In fact, you don't even have to be a British citizen to receive the honor. A large number of Americans have been awarded knighthood or damehood, and the privilege is potentially open to any non-Brit around the world. Though non-Commonwealth subjects are not extended the privilege of styling themselves Sir or Dame, as far as anything else is concerned, these famous figures are knights and dames just like any other.

1. Steven Spielberg

In 2001, director and producer Steven Spielberg received an honorary knighthood via British ambassador to the U.S., Sir Christopher Meyer. The ambassador noted that while Spielberg's commitment to movie magic had made a global impact, its effects on British cinema in particular were significant enough to double movie ticket sales since the early '80s (likely beginning with 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark and 1982's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial). Behind the scenes, Spielberg was also known to be a supporter of the local film industry, choosing to shoot massive productions like 2001's multi-part series Band of Brothers on location in England. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair's son even got in on the action, spending a week on set for work experience.

"This is the stuff that all of our childhood fantasies come from," Spielberg said after his investiture. "You know, courtliness, civility, and honor."

2. Franco Zeffirelli

Spielberg was later joined in the ranks of honorary knights by fellow filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, the first Italian to be so recognized. Zeffirelli earned his KBE in 2004 for "valuable services to British performing arts," including multiple acclaimed Shakespeare adaptations to film and stage, and 1999's Tea With Mussolini, a film that starred no fewer than three British dames: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Joan Plowright. An Oscar nominee, Zeffirelli joyously proclaimed the knighthood to be "the greatest conquest, recognition, I have received in my life, practically."

3. Bono

Bono poses after receiving a knighthood in recognition of his services to the music industry and his humanitarian work in 2007.ShowBizIreland/Getty Images

Paul Hewson—a.k.a. U2 lead singer Bono—falls into the category of honorary knights because he is an Irish citizen (like fellow honorary knight, Irishman Pierce Brosnan). Though Ireland is part of the British Isles, its citizens are not British and therefore not eligible for "substantive" knighthood (i.e., he can't style his name as Sir Bono, such as Sirs Elton John and Patrick Stewart, both British citizens, can). In the same year he shared the title of TIME Magazine's Person(s) of the Year with fellow philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono was presented with honorary knighthood by the British ambassador to Ireland for his humanitarian work. The 2005 ceremony was made all the sweeter for taking place in Dublin, Bono's hometown.

4. and 5. Bill and Melinda Gates

Queen Elizabeth II presents Bill Gates with an honorary knighthood in 2005. His wife, Melinda Gates, would be named an honorary dame in 2014.Chris Young/ROTA/Getty Images

In addition to managing sums of wealth inconceivable to the average person, Bill Gates is also an honorary knight of the British Empire. In keeping with his multi-hyphenate role as billionaire-businessman-tech mogul-philanthropist, Gates was honored in 2005 for a string of contributions, from the 2000 British jobs created by Microsoft to the $210 million in scholarship grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Cambridge University to subsidize international graduate students. That number is just a fraction of the further $750 million the Foundation gave to help establish Gavi (once called the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), a cornerstone of the couple's commitment to leveraging their wealth to improve public health in developing countries.

Melinda Gates attended her husband's ceremony with the Queen, but she had to wait nearly another decade to be honored for her role in the Foundation's charitable work—it wasn't until 2014 that she was named an honorary Dame Commander. In a simple message sent out on Twitter to accompany a photo from her ceremony, Gates said, "Honored to be named a Dame of the British Empire. The UK is a leader in fighting global poverty."

6. Ralph Lauren

In 2018, it was announced that Ralph Lauren would become the first American fashion designer to be honorarily knighted. In accordance with Lauren's penchant for putting his name on things, the Ralph Lauren Corporation established The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, along with two other cancer centers in the United States. British Consul General Antony Phillipson recognized his commitment to public health research and treatment, along with his "key role in forging transatlantic cultural and economic connections" as "a vanguard for the global fashion industry." Lauren certainly has fans in high places: Duchesses Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have both been known to wear his clothing, and one of the late Princess Diana's most iconic looks—a beaded, white, halter column gown—was a Lauren design she wore while honoring him at a fundraiser for his first cancer hospital.

7. Angelina Jolie

Queen Elizabeth II presents Angelina Jolie with the Insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George in 2014.Anthony Devlin—WPA Pool/Getty Images

Despite first achieving fame for her Oscar-winning acting career, Angelina Jolie's royal accolade isn't an acknowledgment of her work in Hollywood. The Order of St. Michael and St. George, originally conceived as a means of honoring high-ranking officers of the Napoleonic Wars, has since been expanded to recognize "extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country." Jolie was appointed to the order in 2014 after years of humanitarian work, particularly with the United Nations and the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative in the UK.

The announcement of Jolie's honor coincided with her co-chairing of the End Sexual Violence in Conflict global summit in London, when she gratefully received the news and reaffirmed that foreign policy is "what I wish to dedicate my working life to." She later received the title officially during a private audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

8. Pelé

Considering soccer's venerated status as the national pastime (though technically, cricket is the country's national sport), it comes as no surprise that Britain's highest chivalric orders include more than a dozen professional footballers (as well as a large number of OBEs, like David Beckham). Onetime Brazilian Minister of Sport and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Edson Arantes do Nascimento—better known as Pelé—was once voted FIFA's "greatest footballer in the history of the game" and has certainly earned his right to be there. Although the honorary KBE was ostensibly granted in recognition of his humanitarian and environmental activism, in part as a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment, his holding the Guinness World Record for most career goals (at 1283) probably didn't hurt.

In 2017, 20 years later after his knighting ceremony, Pelé tweeted a throwback photo of himself proudly lifting his medal, and said the moment would "stay always in [his] memory."

9. and 10. Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani shows of his Knighthood of the British Empire (KBE) medal in 2002.Sion Touhig/Getty Images

In a true show of international diplomacy, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an honorary knighthood on former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2002. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, made the formal announcement on Giuliani's home turf, declaring his nation's thanks for Giuliani's "outstanding help and support to the bereaved British families" in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Giuliani later traveled to Buckingham Palace to join his fellow honorees before the Queen. She personally reiterated her gratitude for his leadership and wished him "less stress in [his] life now."

Michael Bloomberg, another notable NYC mayor, was also welcomed as an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire for his "prodigious entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors." Bloomberg called the honor "especially meaningful" because he had long considered Britain a "second home." His official investiture was in 2015, though The New York Times reported that, in jest, someone once helped Bloomberg celebrate the opening of his company's London office decades before by donning full military regalia and dubbing him with a sword.

11. Plácido Domingo

For famed tenor Plácido Domingo, 2002 was a banner year. Shortly after the Spanish singer (one-third of the acclaimed opera supergroup The Three Tenors, with José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti) was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in July, he was invited to the British embassy in Washington, D.C. to be knighted by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in October. At age 61, Domingo had done performances at the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden for three decades, occasions that he considered "among [his] greatest experiences." At the time of his investiture, he'd sung 119 distinct operatic roles throughout his career, a higher number than anyone else in history. It only seems right that Domingo should also have a pile of commendations to match.

12. Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1958 wearing the mantle and insignia of a Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John.Associated Press Wire Photo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When longtime leading man Douglas Fairbanks Jr. died in 2000, British newspaper The Independent lauded him as "Hollywood royalty and knight of the realm." For an American who never relinquished his citizenship, Fairbanks devoted a significant portion of his personal and professional life to England. As a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he served directly under Lord Mountbatten and played a key role in a number of combined British-American operations. His distinguished service earned him a knighthood from King George VI in 1949 for "furthering Anglo-American amity," and after taking a hiatus from acting, he and his family moved to London. Fairbanks kept a home in London for two decades and entertained acquaintances no less eminent than the royal family itself before retiring to the most American of locales: Palm Beach, Florida.

Never one for subtlety, Fairbanks took full advantage of his honorary knighthood. Though he was unable to style himself "Sir," he nonetheless designed a custom coat of arms with the Latin motto Fides, Conatus et Fidelitas, meaning "Faith, Striving, and Loyalty," in written along a scroll. It also features both a bald eagle and the circlet of the Order of the British Empire, perfectly befitting a man who loved countries.

The New Apple Watch SE Is Now Available on Amazon

Apple/Amazon
Apple/Amazon

Apple products are notorious for their high price tags. From AirPods to iPads to MacBooks, it can be difficult to find the perfect piece of tech on sale when you are ready to buy. Luckily, for those who have had their eye on a new Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE is designed with all the features users want but at a lower starting price of $279— and they're available on Amazon right now.

The SE exists as a more affordable option when compared to Apple's new Series 6 line of watches. This less expensive version has many of the same functions of its pricier brethren, except for certain features like the blood oxygen sensor and electrical heart sensor. To make up for the truncated bells and whistles, the SE comes in at least $120 cheaper than the Series 6, which starts at $400 and goes up to $800. The SE comes with technical improvements on previous models as well, such as the fall detection, a faster processor, a larger screen, water resistance, and more.

Now available in 40mm ($279) and 44mm ($309), both SE models offer a variety of colors to choose from, such as sliver, space gray, and pink. If you want cellular connection, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the 40mm ($329) and the 44mm ($359).

For more, head to Amazon to see the full list of offerings from Apple.

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10 Awesome Things Bill Murray Has Done

What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for RFF

Bill Murray—who was born on September 21, 1950—is known for popping up and doing something awesome every once in a while. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Karaoked With Total Strangers

When a group of karaokers saw Murray enter NYC's Karaoke One 7 one night in January 2011, one of them worked up the courage to invite the movie star into their private karaoke room. Fifteen minutes later, Murray knocked on their door. "He was super nice and they all fit right in," one of the karaoke crew, Mike, told The Chive. "He bought us all a round of some weird green drink and wouldn't tell us what it was. ... The high point was when Bill and I sang a duet of an Elvis song called, 'Marie's the Name.'" Murray and his friends stuck around for the next four hours.

2. Walked Down a Hallway in Slow Motion

Why ask for Bill Murray's autograph when you can ask him to stroll down a hallway with you in slow motion? David Walton Smith told Reelz that he was making a commercial for a school in South Carolina that one of Murray's children attends; Murray was appearing in the spot. Smith didn't want to give Murray a bunch of things to autograph at the end of the shoot, and instead proposed asking the actor to walk with him and his friends down the hallway (they slowed it to slow motion in post). Murray, of course, obliged.

3. Got Invited to a Party, Did the Host's Dishes

Even when he's crashing parties, Bill Murray is polite. During a 2006 trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, for a celebrity golf tournament, Murray accompanied 22-year-old anthropology student Lykke Stavnef—whom he and his friends had met in a bar—to a house party. "Nobody could believe it when I arrived at the party with Bill Murray," she told The Telegraph. Murray then washed all the dishes in the students' sink. "It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there, but he was so relaxed and it was really amusing when he started to wash up," Stavnef said.

4. Looked Great in a Christmas Card

“How and why I got this from Bill Murray, I have no idea!” wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper once tweeted. (The Frisky also published this card in 2012.)

5. Used an ice Luge at his Christmas Party

It should come as no surprise that, in addition to looking great on holiday cards, the actor throws epic Christmas parties, which he told Esquire include an ice luge for booze:

"It's a big magilla to get an ice luge, but if you do, you can pour vodka into it and it chills it on the way down. It looks like an Olympic ski jump. It's more for visual effect. You can put your head underneath it, like you're guzzling gasoline, but we just fill shot glasses. Hundreds of little shot glasses. So, we drank this stuff, and it took the party to a completely other level. The party lasted much longer. No one left. The year before, people would leave at, like, two or three in the morning. With the vodka luge, they didn't leave until five. The last two years I've had this luge. That's how I like to drink. Out of a large ice structure."

Murray Christmas, indeed.

6. Played Kickball with Random People

Kickballers enjoying a game on Roosevelt Island in October 2012 when Murray "popped out of nowhere," team member Chris DiLella told Entertainment Weekly. "He was bouncing the ball… ran over to second base. Played for a bit… Gave us all high-fives and let us pose with him in the picture."

7. Bartended at SXSW

During a visit to Austin's Shangri-La during SXSW 2010, Murray hopped behind the bar to serve drinks (apparently, even if a patron asked for whiskey, he'd give them tequila). Someone caught it on video, which you can see above.

8. Gave an Excellent Speech at a Bachelor Party

In 2014, Murray crashed a bachelor party in Charleston, South Carolina, and gave an excellent, impromptu speech:

"You know how they say funerals aren't for the dead but for the living? Bachelor parties are not for the groom, they are for [the other guys]. So, I'm going to give you all advice, because it's too late for this one. If you have someone you think is the one, don't just sort of think in your ordinary mind, think 'Okay, let's make a date, let's plan this and make a party and get married.' Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. If when you come back to JFK [airport], when you land in JFK and you are still in love with that person, get married at the airport!"

Wise words.

9. Crashed a Couple's Engagement Photoshoot

Not long after he crashed that bachelor party, Murray happened upon Ashley Donald and Erik Rogers taking engagement photos in downtown Charlestown and decided to get in on the action. "When I set up Ashley and Erik, I saw this look of surprise on their faces as they looked over my shoulder. I asked them to look at the camera, but they just looked stunned and with his eyes, Erik motioned that I better look behind me," Raheel Gauba of Fia Forever Photography told the Huffington Post. "As I turned around to potentially ask the person distracting them to give us a moment, I see Bill Murray with his shirt up, belly out and patting it—his attempt to make the couple laugh. I joined the couple in the shock and surprise of the moment. At that point, I invited him to join the couple for a quick shot and he did. So genuine and nice of him to make the couple's day!"

10. Read Poetry to Construction Workers

When New York City's Poets House was being built in 2009, Murray showed up to read poetry to the construction workers. He began with Billy Collins's "Another Reason I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House," joking afterwards, "They get worse, OK, so if you want to lie down or get sick, take a sick day, do it now." He followed it with a poem for "the shorter attention span crowd," Lorine Niedecker’s "Poets Work" and finished with Emily Dickinson's "I Dwell in Possibility." Murray could not, unfortunately, get any of the workers to volunteer to read their own poetry.