Ralph Lauren Becomes First American Designer To Be Awarded British Knighthood

Designer Ralph Lauren poses on the runway during New York Fashion Week
Mike Coppola / Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Fashion designer Ralph Lauren has been afforded an honor no other American in his field has: He has been gifted an honorary British Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

According to CNN International, the 79-year-old has been made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and can demand to be called Ralph Lauren KBE, if he so chooses.

The honorary knighthood insignia will be presented to the designer by a representative of Her Majesty the Queen at a ceremony next year.

Antony Phillipson, British Consul General to New York and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America, made a statement about Lauren’s award and explained the reason for awarding it to him.

“In fashion, business and philanthropy, Mr. Lauren has played a key role in forging transatlantic cultural and economic connections. 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. 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.”

While Lauren is the first American fashion designer to be honored with this recognition, there are a number of other Americans who have also been knighted over the years for their accomplishments. Recipients include former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush; former New York City Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani; Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Angela Ahrendts.

The award seeks to honor those who provide exceptional achievement and service to the nation, and non-nationals can receive the award if their work provides an “important contribution to British interests.”

And Lauren is also not the first designer this year to be given an award by the Queen. Earlier in 2018, Queen Elizabeth gave the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Richard Quinn.

Just this year, Lauren celebrated the 50th anniversary of his company in September and realized his childhood dream when he threw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game. Speaking in the dugout beforehand, he shared that it was likely the most exciting thing he had ever done.

“I’ve been everywhere and I’ve spoken in front of presidents. But this is probably the most exciting moment ever for me.”