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A Knighthood for Warner

(AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
John Warner is about to add another title to a list that already includes U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, and Elizabeth Taylor's ex-husband.

After he gets back from a trip across the pond, the former senator from Virginia will be John Warner, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Warner is scheduled to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the Washington Post reports.

Warner is one of a handful of foreigners to receive this honor. Others include Rudy Giuliani, Steven Spielberg, and Bono. Alas, his status has its drawbacks: As an American, the 82-year old Warner cannot be called "sir."

"I am particularly pleased that we honor him as he steps down from Senate service," said British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald in a statement announcing Warner's knighthood. "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."

Warner, who the Post reports is something of an anglophile, has family connections to the monarchy. An ancestor, Alexander Stuart, was clerk of the works during the construction of Balmoral Castle, a favorite summertime retreat for the royal family.

"My wife Jeanne, who was born in London, and I both share direct ancestral lineage to the United Kingdom, and we quietly reflect on how our parents would have such joy in their hearts with this recognition," Warner said in a statement.

The honor is an acknowledgement of the role that Warner played in strengthening the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, particularly in the realm of defense. In the Senate, Warner served on the Armed Services Committee for 30 years, eventually becoming its chair.

Senator Warner strengthened ties between the two countries in another important regard. In 1976, as head of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, Warner helped persuade the British government to allow the display of the original Magna Carta in the Capitol Rotunda in celebration of the United States' 200th anniversary.

Warner, a Republican, was in the Senate from 1979-2009. He supported the Iraq War but broke with his party over issues such as federal support for embryonic stem cell research and gun control.

In 2002, Warner won re-election to the Senate with 82 percent of the vote. In August 2007, he announced that he would not seek a sixth term.