Ralph Lauren gets honorary knighthood from Prince Charles in private ceremony
Designer Ralph Lauren, whose fashion has long celebrated English tweedy-and-aristocratic style, received an honorary knighthood from Prince Charles on Wednesday for his services to fashion.
The ceremony at Buckingham Palace was private but the pictures show the two men in black tie standing in one of the plushly decorated palace rooms, with Lauren holding his honorary KBE, or Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Charles had spent much of the day at Royal Ascot horse-racing meet, wearing a top hat and tails, but hurried to the palace to change and preside over the private honors ceremonies.
Because Lauren is an American citizen, his knighthood is honorary – meaning he doesn't get to call himself Sir Ralph.
Such ceremonies are usually private, in contrast to the public ones twice a year during which Charles, his son, Prince William, or his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, distribute honors to hundreds of British citizens in recognition for their good works and services to the nation.
Recipients of honors are chosen by government ministers, then presented to the monarch as a list of nominees for her approval.
Lauren is the first American fashion designer to get an honorary knighthood but he's not the first American to get one or a damehood. Such honors are given to non-British nationals to recognize their contributions to British interests.
Other notable American recipients include Angelina Jolie, former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; Steven Spielberg; and Bill and Melinda Gates.
Gen. Colin Powell, the retired four-star Army general, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former U.S. Secretary of State, was the first black American to receive an honorary knighthood, in 1993, for his contribution to British-U.S. relations and his role in the Gulf War.
Lauren, 79, has received fistfuls of awards in a career spanning more than five decades and a record of philanthropy that has especially focused on treating and curing cancer.
He holds the Key to the City of New York, the French Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his leadership role in the preservation of the Smithsonian's Star-Spangled Banner.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America has awarded him multiple gongs, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, the Humanitarian Leadership Award, and the first-ever American Fashion Legend Award. He's also been recognized for outstanding achievement by the British Fashion Council at the British Fashion Awards.
In Britain, Lauren and the Ralph Lauren Corporation has generously supported The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden hospital in Chelsea. In 2014, Prince William hosted a glittering gala at Windsor Castle to honor Lauren's charity work with the hospital.
This month, the company pledged to help fund the building of a new facility, the Oak Cancer Centre, at The Royal Marsden in Sutton, which will bring together researchers and patients in an effort to speed up the translation of cutting-edge research into breakthroughs in treatment of cancer and care of patients.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ralph Lauren gets honorary knighthood from Prince Charles in private ceremony