Former Sen. Lugar knighted by Queen Elizabeth for U.S.-U.K. work

Maureen Groppe

Nearly 60 years after Queen Elizabeth helped inspire a young Rhodes scholar named Dick Lugar to get involved in global issues, the queen bestowed on the Indiana Republican one of the highest honors the British can confer.

Indiana’s former senator on Tuesday was named an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his work on issues important to the two countries.

“Sen. Lugar’s unceasing and highly practical efforts over many years have been invaluable, not just to our relations between the United States and the United Kingdom but to the cause of peaceful constructive engagement more generally and to the security of millions of people around the world,” British Ambassador Peter Westmacott said at a ceremony at his Washington, D.C., residence where guests dined on mini yorkshire puddings and fish-and-chips.

Lugar said he keeps being asked what the requirements are for knighthood.

“Frankly, I don’t know,” Lugar said as the crowd of more than 150 family members, friends, former aides and colleagues laughed. “I was just deeply, deeply moved.”

Lugar’s office got a call a few months ago that the ambassador wanted to meet with him. Being told in that meeting that Queen Elizabeth wanted to make him a knight was a total surprise, Lugar said.

The select group of Americans who have been knighted include Bill Gates, Bob Hope, Billy Graham and former presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Honorary awards to foreign nationals are conferred by the queen on the advice of the foreign secretary.

The last senator to receive the honor was Virginia Republican John Warner, who was knighted in 2009 and attended Lugar’s ceremony.

“I just know of no one more deserving than my former colleague,” Warner said.

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