Queen grants Knighthood to Bill Gates

Bill Gates, already a lord of American technology industry, received an honorary Knighthood from the U.K.'s Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.

Gates has been awarded the title KBE, or Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for his contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the U.K., and for his efforts to reduce poverty in the developing world, including parts of the British Commonwealth.

As part of the ceremony to present the decoration, Gates knelt before the monarch, who tapped him on the shoulder with a sword. The motto of the order of chivalry is "For God and the Empire."

Under a system established in 1917, Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, cannot use the title "Sir" because he is not a U.K. subject, but he can write the letters KBE after his name, IDG News Service reported.

The U.K. Foreign Office announced in January 2004 that Gates would receive the award.

The queen conferred the honor in a private ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.

"I am humbled and delighted," Gates said in a statement. "I'm particularly pleased that this honor helps recognize the real heroes our foundation supports to improve health in poor countries. Their incredible work is helping ensure that one day all people - no matter where they are born - will have the same op-portunity for a healthy life, and I'm grateful to share this honor with them."

According to the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the honorary knighthood recognizes Gates' contributions to improving health and reducing poverty in parts of the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the developing world. Gates also was recognized for his contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom.

Gate generous charitable giving has won him attention internationally as great as his association with Microsoft. "His charitable giving is at a level un-matched by any other citizen," he said.

Gates spoke of Microsoft ties to the U.K.

"This honor is particularly poignant given the deep connections Microsoft enjoys with the United Kingdom," Gates said. "Over the past 23 years we have benefited greatly from strong business alliances and the tremendous wealth of talent and creativity of our U.K. employees and researchers. The U.K. was the first country in which Microsoft set up a subsidiary outside the U.S., and our experience in the U.K. has been significant in shaping our international growth."

Microsoft employs nearly 2,000 people in the United Kingdom. The company also supports a strong ecosystem of 17,000 partner businesses that have helped spur technology growth and adaptation in the U.K. economy. In addition, Microsoft Research Cambridge was Microsoft's first research laboratory to be established outside the United States. The lab was set up in July 1997 and today employs 80 world-class researchers.

Later in the day, Gates spoke on a panel at the Wellcome Trust, titled "Global Health: Putting Science to Work for the Developing World." The panel discussed approaches to increasing research on diseases of the developing world, a statement on Microsoft's Website said.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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