Arise, Bono! The U2 frontman was named an honorary knight of the British Empire at a Dublin ceremony on Thursday – though because he is not a British citizen, the Irish rock star must forego the customary title “Sir.”
“You have permission to call me anything you want – except sir, all right? Lord of lords, your demigodness, that’ll do,” the musician and humanitarian, 46, joked at the low-key ceremony, the Associated Press reports.
Bono’s exact new title is Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), as bestowed upon him by British Ambassador to Ireland David Reddaway, who also acknowledged Bono’s commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.
Attending the ceremony with Bono (real name: Paul Hewson) was his wife Ali and their children – Jordan, 17; Eve, 15; Elijah, 7; and John, 5 – and U2 bandmates Adam Clayton and the Edge.
During the event, a letter by British Prime Minister Tony Blair was read, praising the singer’s activism. “I’ll leave it to others far more knowledgeable than me to talk about U2’s music,” Blair wrote, according to the BBC. “All I’ll say is that, along with millions of others right across the world, I’m a huge fan.”
Bono also addressed the criticism – especially from Irish nationalists – that he would accept the British honor. “It has been a great year for this award to happen in,” Bono said, adding, “And it does feel like this country and Great Britain are closer than they have ever been.”
Other non-British citizens to receive the KBE title include Bill Gates (in 2005), former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (in 2002) and filmmaker Steven Spielberg (in 2001).