Even Better Than the Real Thing Bono Becomes British Knight -- But Don't Call Him 'Sir'

Irish rock star Bono has become a knight of the British empire, but won't be allowed to call himself "Sir." His five-year-old son was just disappointed that his dad wasn't actually becoming a Jedi.

Bono is now a knight of the British empire. Just don't call him sir.

Bono is now a knight of the British empire. Just don't call him sir.

He started life as plain old Paul Hewson. Then he decided to call himself Bono Vox, apparently inspired by a brand of hearing aid. That got shortened to Bono, the name under which he would rise to stardom with the rock group U2.

Now the Dublin-born singer will have to get his business cards re-printed yet again -- from now on, he will be Bono, KBE.

Bono was crowned a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Thursday by the British ambassador to Ireland, David Reddaway. During the informal and light-hearted ceremony at Reddaway's Dublin home, the ambassador paid tribute to Bono's work campaigning against poverty and disease in Africa and read out a letter from British Prime Minister Tony Blair praising Bono's committment to humanitarian causes.

Bono was accompanied by his wife Ali and their four children, as well as two of his U2 bandmates, guitarist The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton. Bono joked afterwards that his five-year-old son John was disappointed that his father didn't receive a light saber. "He thought I was becoming a Jedi," he said, referring to the caste of "knights" in the Star Wars series of movies.

However, Bono will not actually be able to call himself "Sir Bono" -- as an Irish citizen, Bono is not a subject of the British Queen and hence is not allowed to use the title "Sir," although he may put KBE after his name. "You have permission to call me anything you want -- except Sir, all right?" the rock star joked with reporters afterwards. "Lord of lords, your demigodness, that'll do." Bono joins a number of international celebrities who have been awarded the KBE, including fellow Irish rock star and political activist Bob Geldof, director Steven Spielberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Bono has been criticized by some Irish nationalists for accepting a British honor. But Bono rejected this criticism, saying that the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland enjoy warm relations today. "I think Great Britain is great," he commented. "Irish people support British football teams. And Irish bands sign British record labels. And Irish people speak English."

Bono said he had been inspired to throw a party at his Dublin home to celebrate his KBE by the historic power-sharing agreement reached Monday by Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, leaders of Northern Ireland's two main Protestant and Catholic parties respectively.

"I wasn't going to have even a bit of a do. I was going to slip in, keep it very quiet," he said. "But when I saw big Ian sitting down there with Gerry Adams, I just thought: This is the end of an era but the beginning of a much better one."



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