After five decades in the fashion industry, Ralph Lauren has been recognized in the UK with a knighthood, making the New Yorker the first American fashion designer to become an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE).
Lauren was knighted for his services to fashion by Prince Charles in a private ceremony held at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday. He joins former President Ronald Reagan, Steven Spielberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates as Americans who have been recognized in the UK for their transformational efforts in their individual fields.
Previously, Lauren had been awarded the Key to the City of New York by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the French Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor), the Smithsonian's James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, and numerous awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, including the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.
Knighthoods in the UK go back centuries, although the Most Excellent Order awards specifically date back to 1917 and are all about championing exceptional service to various industries. Each merit must be confirmed by the Queen before the awards are dished out. This award also means that, should he so desire, Lauren can now put KBE after his name.