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Ralph Lauren Is the First American Fashion Designer to Receive an Honorary Knighthood From Queen Elizabeth II

2018 has been a big year for Ralph Lauren.

The designer’s eponymous label celebrated its 50th anniversary and the man himself was awarded the first ever Member’s Salute from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. But all that might just pale in comparison to Lauren’s latest achievement: he will be the first American fashion designer to receive an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Lauren will be presented with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) insignia by a representative of the Queen during a ceremony that is due to take place next year. With such an honor, Lauren joins the ranks of several other Americans, including numerous U.S. presidents, Michael Bloomberg, Angelina Jolie, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

The U.K. honors system ranges from various orders and medals to knights and dames, recognizing achievement and service to the nation. However, individuals who are not citizens of one of 15 Commonwealth nations are only eligible for an honorary award. Lauren’s award is one of the highest available to an American and will enable him to add “KBE” to the end, but not “Sir” to the front, of his name.

Throughout his career, Lauren has been the recipient of a number of awards and honors. Then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave him the Key to the City of New York and he has also received the French Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He was also awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal and a range of distinctions from the CFDA.

British Consul General to New York and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America, Antony Phillipson pointed to Lauren’s contributions not just to fashion, but also his philanthropic efforts, in the decision to bestow him with the honorary knighthood.

“As creator and visionary of the Ralph Lauren brand worldwide, Mr. Lauren has been a vanguard for the global fashion industry and American style for nearly half a century,” said Phillipson. “In addition, monumental philanthropic efforts, especially in the realm of public health, cancer research, and treatment in both the U.S. and the U.K., have led to benefits felt by citizens around the world.”

Lauren’s company recently opened The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.