WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Edward Kennedy is being awarded an honorary knighthood, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday.
"Northern Ireland is today at peace, more Americans have health care, more children around the world are going to school, and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy," Brown said in an address to a joint meeting of Congress.
Kennedy, who underwent surgery for brain cancer last year, was not present for the speech, but his colleagues gave him a standing ovation when the honor was announced.
Watch: We owe a great debt to Kennedy, British PM says
The long-serving Massachusetts Democrat and head of one of the most important families in American politics said in a written statement that he is "deeply grateful" for the honor.
"This honor is moving and personal," Kennedy said, "a reflection not only of my public life, but of things that profoundly matter to me as an individual. I accept this honor in the spirit in which it is given, with a continuing commitment to be a voice for the voiceless and for the shared ideals of freedom and fairness which are so fundamental to the character of our two countries."
As an American, Kennedy cannot receive an official knighthood, and cannot use the title "Sir Edward," but he will be allowed use the letters "K.B.E." after his name, for Knight of the British Empire.
Kennedy, 77, has been a senator since 1962. Known as Ted, he is the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert Kennedy.
He played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, and was an outspoken liberal standard-bearer during a conservative-dominated era from the 1980s to the early 2000s.
Kennedy suffered a seizure in May 2008 at his home on Cape Cod. Shortly afterward, doctors diagnosed a brain tumor.
Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, removed as much of the tumor as possible the following month. Doctors considered the procedure a success, and Kennedy underwent follow-up radiation treatments and chemotherapy.
But he has rarely been seen in public since then.
Neither the British Foreign Office nor Buckingham Palace, the official home of Queen Elizabeth II, could say if Kennedy would come to London to receive his honor personally from the Queen. No date has been set for the ceremony, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. She declined to be named, in keeping with British custom.
With the honorary knighthood, Kennedy joins Americans including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, movie director Steven Spielberg, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, ex-Presidents Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush, and British-born actor Bob Hope.
Updated: 11:19 a.m.
He needs jail time.
That's cool. And this is not the first time one of our politicians got the hook up. This goes back when my boy Ben Franklin was around when they hooked him up.
Good for him.
I don't always agree with his politics but I respect him.
A life of duplicity and infamy, crowned by an
honor from a disgraced royalty. How fitting!
I am a lifelong Democrat that doen't think we should bow down to the people sent to Washington to work for us.. Wake up to what is actually being done instead of what is being said. People like Danny in Chicago, don't seem to be able to seperate media hype from fact
This "news" website is horrible. They never post my comments, even though they are typically more informative and less inflammatory than the majority that DO get posted. I'm boycotting your sponsors, CNN. Google News and BBC is the way to go. You guys suck almost as bad as Fox News. Way to sink to the lowest common denominator.
I could not agree more with April. She hit this one right on the head. Although I highly respect HM Queen Elizabeth II, I don't think Sen. Kennedy deserves it. This is just going to fuel the Democrats's egos and I fear that with all the hot air and huge egos they already have, it could lead to an explosion. Hmmmmm........ on second thought.............
Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment.
Congratulations to Senator Kennedy for the honor. He has been a champion for the underdog, a champion for universal healthcare and a senator who has spent his life helping people.
For all the critics, let the person who has never made a mistake in their life, let's hear from you.
He has done more work than anyone to help the average person. I hope he lives long enough to see his most cherished dream "Affordable Health-care" become law. Too all you Kennedy haters out there: In the words that Dick Cheney spoke to Patrick Leahey "Go (well you Know)" and the horse you rode in on.
Just the facts, Taxachusetts is so Democrat that they re-elect a drunk driving murder (Kennedy) and a child molester (Gerry Studs).
CNN, you post lib lies all day long, why would you censor the honest factual truth I just posted?
Think about what type of person you are, can you look your children in the eye and tell them you are a Democrat?
april March 4th, 2009 10:49 am ET
What a waste of everyones time,I guess it's appropriate to have a Senator be called a knight, since this president thinks he's a king and the Dems in Congress are his Royal Court. What a bunch of morons
McCain and Palin were the Lords of the Flies....overseeing their minions as they all circled the foul steaming pile of failed Republican cowboy diplomacy and bastardized European Christianity dressed up as American caucasian conservatism.
Congrats Ted.. Please take care of yourself.
And Rush and the rest of the Repulsican party are still court jesters.
Danny in Chicago March 4th, 2009 10:57 am ET
Ted Kennedy has done great things for this country…period.
Like what? Name one thing noteworthy that he's done without Googling it first. You can't.
He hasn't done anything but warm a chair for decades and living off the fame of his family name.
He should have been sitting in a jail cell for manslaughter.
I thought we fought against this in 1776 and WON. Giving this guy such an "honor" will only give him a bigger ego than he already has. I'll bet Mary Jo is watching down and wishing she could have lived long enough to have an opinion.
Congrats and slay those court jester republicans with your sword ....lol
Sad that this happens. I am sorry the man is sick but at least he is alive. How about the poor girl from Chappaquiddick?? His judgement day will come though.
ya my postings never appear either. ill say it again. don't be dissin Chappy Kevin! beautiful beach on marthas vineyard. Ted deserves this!
Giving this guy such an "honor" will only give him a bigger ego than he already has. I'll bet Mary Jo is watching down and wishing she could have lived long enough to have an opinion.
To Danny in Chicago:
So if someone does not agree with you you say they are spreading hate and fear? Is that the Dims new catch words...Hate and Fear? "Oh those repugs spreading hate and fear"...lol. With all of the name calling coming from your side I think using those words are a little hypocritical. Besides, since when is disagreeing hateful? I would also like to add that reading those words over and over and over and over again make you guys seem like total wimps..."Oh he said hate words to me and made me cry unicorn tears. I need a rainbow hug fast so his fear doesn't get me down"...lol. Really? Grow up and get some thicker skin. Dimocrats really are the party of wimps and whiners.
Please post CNN. You haven't posted my last 10 comments. What are you scared of my hate and fear?...haha.
Congratulations to Senator Kennedy for this special honor. The Senator has spent his life helping people, and he has been a champion for less fortunate people & for universal healthcare. As for his critics, no one has lived their life without making mistakes so I would ask, what have you done for your country.
It really is quite amusing when so many pathethic losers (Herbert, Matthew, Ian, Kevin Ohio, etc.) take time from their inconsequential lives to castigate a man who will be remembered as long as there is a United States of America! Congratulation, Senator Kennedy.
She is Nut's, and so are you...
C'mon Blokes, you're going to Knight a drunken liberal catholic who's family history includes financial and material support the IRA to conduct terorists attacks in Northern Ireland? I thought we convicted folks here in the US for that? Oh, I forgot, he's from Camelot and was a running buddy of King Arthur.