- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

JOHN WARNER, KBE

When he was a young Marine sometime in the 1950s, John W. Warner was thrown out of the British Embassy, after staying late for a party with the ambassador’s daughter following a diplomatic reception.

Over the decades, he redeemed himself, becoming one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite Americans. This week, the embassy announced that the British monarch selected the five-term U.S. senator from Virginia to receive a knighthood.

“John Warner has spent a lifetime in the service of the American people,” British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald said as he hosted a high-profile dinner Wednesday on the evening of Mr. Warner’s 82nd birthday.

“Throughout his long and distinguished career, he has been a constant and unstinting friend of the United Kingdom, working with us on issues ranging from defense cooperation to the Northern Ireland peace process. Senator Warner has always extended a hand of friendship to the U.K. from the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Mr. Warner, a Republican who retired after his latest term ended Jan. 3, hosted Queen Elizabeth when she attended the commemoration last year of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

Mr. Sheinwald added, “I am particularly pleased that we honor him as he steps down from Senate service. On behalf of the British government, I pay tribute to his extraordinary commitment to American national security, to the NATO alliance and the special relationship between our two countries.”

Mr. Warner will be inducted as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in a ceremony in London in the spring. Queen Elizabeth herself is expected to bestow the knighthood, which would bring even more significance to the honor. As a U.S. citizen, he is not entitled to use the designation of “sir” before his first name. However, he can include the initials KBE behind his last name.

Mr. Warner was humble in response to the ambassador’s remarks.

“I accept this honor with deepest humility and acknowledge with profound appreciation the many persons who guided me and otherwise made possible my over 40 years in public service,” he said.

“It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity, sharing the responsibility with others, to maintain the credibility and vitality of the historic U.K.-U.S. defense relationship, which provides leadership and incentive for other free nations to seek peace through strength.”

Mr. Warner was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee for 30 years, serving three times as chairman. On that committee, he worked to ensure that the British government had access to U.S. intelligence and to equipment to promote coordination between British and American troops.

Mr. Warner also shares personal ties to Britain. His wife, the former Jeanne Vander Myde, was born in London and one of his Scottish ancestors, Alexander Stuart, had royal connections and presided over the construction of Queen Victoria’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

He is also the seventh husband of Elizabeth Taylor, if you count Richard Burton, who married and divorced the famous actress twice, as number five and six.

FASHION ENVOY

When many ambassadors retire, they end up giving speeches or joining think tanks. Politically appointed ones often return to their private business.

However, few make fashion statements.

Craig Stapleton, the former ambassador to France and a close political ally of former President George W. Bush, is the newest director of Abercrombie & Fitch, the apparel company that is most notorious for its sexual advertisements to sell clothes.

Craig Stapleton brings a wonderful mixture of business experience and international savvy that our … board found compelling,” said Michael Jeffries, the company’s chief executive officer.

Mr. Stapleton is a former partner of Mr. Bush’s in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.

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