Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar is joining a club that has included Ronald Reagan, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer and Placido Domingo.
Lugar will be knighted this evening at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., according to a Monday announcement by The Lugar Center.
Officially, Queen Elizabeth II is giving the Indiana Republican the rank of honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, also known as the KBE. Her proxy at today’s ceremony will be Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the U.S.
I have focused my service on solving our most serious challenges in a spirit of cooperation between our countries, our allies, and all people of good will, Lugar, 81, said in a statement. I take this appointment as encouragement to continue these endeavors.
According to the British Monarchy’s website, foreign knighthood recipients are those who have made an important contribution to relations between their country and Britain. The website says that recipients range from actors to scientists, and from school head teachers to industrialists.
Lugar, a Senate leader on foreign policy, nuclear non-proliferation and global food security, left the chamber in January after 36 years in office. He was defeated in last year’s Republican primary election by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who lost the November general election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Lugar lived in England in the mid-1950s, when the Indianapolis native was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He said in his statement that he met Queen Elizabeth at the time and was inspired by her leadership and when she asked me about Indiana.
Lugar is on the board of a foundation that supports Oxford’s Pembroke College and acts as a liaison for Pembroke alumni in North America.
The Lugar Center noted that only British subjects receive the title of sir when knighted. The corresponding honor for women is damehood and carries the title dame.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said in an email that this evening’s ceremony will not include the laying of a sword blade on Lugar’s shoulders.
That ritual is reserved for those knighted directly by the queen, Fisher said.
Other U.S. senators who have received honorary knighthoods include Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, John Warner of Virginia and George Mitchell of Maine.
Among other knighted Americans were Presidents Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush; FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover; New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan; the Rev. Billy Graham; and entertainer Bob Hope.
Since leaving the Senate, Lugar has been lecturing and teaching at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana University and Georgetown University, and he leads a diplomacy institute and a college academy, both of which bear his name.