- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 23, 2006

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish rocker and humanitarian Bono will become a knight of the British Empire — but the U2 frontman won’t be called “Sir.”

London confirmed yesterday Bono will receive his honorary knighthood from the British ambassador to Ireland, David Reddaway, in a Dublin ceremony shortly after New Year’s Day.

The Dubliner, whose real name is Paul Hewson, won’t be entitled to use the honorific “Sir” because he is not a citizen of Britain or the Commonwealth of former British colonies.

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

In a letter to Bono released yesterday, 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,” Mr. 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 Bono’s fellow Dubliner and rocker-turned-humanitarian Bob Geldof, Bill Gates, the Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Steven Spielberg.

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