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Monday, January 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

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Bill Gates to receive honorary knighthood

By The Associated Press

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LONDON — He'll be a knight, but he won't be "Sir Bill."

Britain announced today that it will award an honorary knighthood to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in recognition of his contribution to enterprise in Britain.

Gates, 48, the world's richest man, will receive the honor at an unspecified, later date that is "mutually convenient," the Foreign Office said.

Because he is not a British citizen, Gates cannot use "Sir" in front of his name, but he can put the letters KBE after his name. The initials stand for Knight Commander of the British Empire.

He also will not be expected to bow before Queen Elizabeth at the ceremony and will not have his shoulders tapped with a sword as would be done for a full British knight.

Honorary knights

Rudolph Giuliani

Alan Greenspan

Billy Graham

Steven Spielberg

George H.W. Bush

Ronald Reagan

The KBE is perhaps the most common knighthood given today. It's often awarded to civilians for public service and contributions to the nation. British scientists, educators, doctors, nurses, charitable and social workers, business people, athletes, writers, actors, artists and musicians, including the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, are the most frequent recipients.

Americans who have received honorary knighthoods include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, evangelist Billy Graham, film director Steven Spielberg and former presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

"The honorary KBE is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom," the Foreign Office said of Gates. "He has also made significant contributions to poverty reduction in parts of the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the developing world."

No one was available for comment at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "delighted" that Gates, a resident of Medina, had been honored.

"He is one of the most important global business leaders of this age," Straw said. "Microsoft technology has transformed business practices, and his company has had a profound impact on the British economy, employing 2,000 people and contributing to the development of the (information technology) sector."

In 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a donation of $210 million to Cambridge University to create a scholarship program for graduate students from outside Britain.


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