It's knighthood for Bono, minus the 'Sir'

From the Associated Press

Irish rocker and humanitarian Bono will become a knight of the British empire -- but the U2 frontman won't be called "Sir."

Bono will receive his honorary knighthood from the British ambassador to Ireland, David Reddaway, in a ceremony here shortly after New Year's Day.

The Dubliner, whose real name is Paul Hewson, won't be entitled to use the title "Sir" because he is not a national of Britain or the Commonwealth of former British colonies.

A spokesman for the 46-year-old singer said Bono was flattered by the honor and hoped it will help him open diplomatic doors in his campaign for more Western aid to Africa.

In a letter to Bono released over the weekend, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the singer's lobbying had forced wealthy nations to focus on increasing aid to Africa.

"I know from talking to you how much these causes matter to you," Blair wrote. "I know as well how knowledgeable you are about the problems we face and how determined you are to do all you can to help overcome them. You have tirelessly used your voice to speak up for Africa."

The British Embassy in Dublin said the Irish government approved granting Bono the title. The issue is diplomatically sensitive, because Irish officials are legally barred from receiving British royal honors and other Irish nationals have refused nominations on political grounds. Ireland withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1949.

Previous non-British nationals who received knighthoods include Bill Gates, opera singer Placido Domingo, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and Steven Spielberg.

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