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Honorary Knighthood for U2's Bono

BBC, December 23, 2006


U2 frontman Bono is being awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen, the British Embassy in Dublin has said.

The singer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, has been given the honour for "his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work," it said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated him, telling the singer in a letter: "You have tirelessly used your voice to speak up for Africa."

The 46-year-old will receive the honour in Dublin early in the new year.

British ambassador David Reddaway will conduct the ceremony.

The embassy said the agreement of the Irish government was sought and granted for the Dublin-born singer to be honoured.

A statement on the band's website said the singer, who has lobbied Western leaders to increase aid to developing countries and cancel Third World debt, was "very flattered" to receive the award.

It added that he hoped it opened doors for his campaigning work against extreme poverty in Africa.

Pressure on leaders

Because he is not a British national, he will not be able to use the title "Sir." The honour is the same as that conferred upon fellow Dubliner Bob Geldof in 1986.

Other recipients of honorary knighthoods include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, singer Placido Domingo and film director Steven Spielberg.

In his letter to the singer, Mr. Blair thanked Bono for his work in the run up to 2005's G8 summit, which had a focus on African poverty.

Alongside Geldof, Bono organised the Live 8 concerts to coincide with the summit, and increase the pressure on Western leaders to take action.

"I know from talking to you how much these causes matter to you. 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," he said.

'Invaluable role'

"I want personally to thank you for the invaluable role you played in the run-up to the Gleneagles G8 summit. Without your personal contribution, we could not have achieved the results we did.

"So thank you and I look forward to continuing to work together to maintain momentum on Africa, and ensure leaders around the world meet the promises they have made."

In 2003, Bono was presented with France's Legion D'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac, while in 2005 he was voted Time magazine's person of the year for his work promoting justice and equality, along with Bill and Melinda Gates.

Last year, he admitted that at one stage, he was worried his commitment to the cause might force him to leave U2.

In 2006 he was named the most influential pop star of the past 25 years by music network MTV, and in February U2 won five Grammy Awards, including song of the year for "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," and album of the year for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

© BBC, 2006.

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