Why Ralph Lauren Being Knighted Is So Special

Chris Allerton
Ralph Lauren has officially been knighted. Back in November, news broke that Queen Elizabeth II named the iconic designer an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. And this week, it became official when Lauren was presented with the honorary knighthood insignia by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. If he’d like, Lauren now can be called Ralph Lauren KBE. Casual, right?
This marks the first time an American designer has ever received the prestigious honor from Her Majesty the Queen. Last September, Lauren celebrated 50 years in business ⁠— a very big deal in the fashion world ⁠— further proving that he is truly a living legend who will forever be regarded as one of the industry’s greats. After all, he single-handedly made the polo shirt the ubiquitous staple it is today and helped define what’s become known as the prototypical American aesthetic: Think nautical navy blazers, crisp white button-ups, tailored light-wash jeans, and brown leather accessories.
According to a company press release, “the UK honors system recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the nation and includes non-British nationals who receive honorary awards for their important contribution to British interests.” The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was founded in 1917.
Other notable American recipients of an honorary UK knighthood or damehood 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.

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