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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 12:20 GMT
Spielberg receives Royal honour
Steven Spielberg and British ambassador Christopher Meyer
Steven Spielberg receives his honorary knighthood
Director Steven Spielberg has received an honorary knighthood in a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington.

The director of Schindler's List and ET said he was surprised by the honour, describing it as the fulfilment of a childhood dream.

This is the stuff that all of our childhood fantasies come from

Steven Spielberg

He was the awarded the knighthood by British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer to recognise Spielberg's "unique and outstanding contribution to international film".

"The truth is, I stand before you now and I'm a knight," said Spielberg afterwards.

He added: "This is the stuff that all of our childhood fantasies come from. You know, courtliness, civility and honour."

Important contribution

Sir Christopher said the knighthood recognised, in particular, "his services to the entertainment industry of the United Kingdom".

Spielberg, 53, has not become Sir Steven, as he is not a British citizen, but will be able to use the letters KBE after his name, for Knight of the British Empire.

Honorary knighthoods are conferred by the Queen, on the advice of the foreign secretary, on those who have made an important contribution to relations between their country and the UK.

Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw
Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw were guests at a special dinner
"Mr Spielberg's career has had a global impact. But the impact in the United Kingdom stands out," Sir Christopher added.

Spielberg's films have helped double cinema admissions in Britain since the early 80s and his movies rank among the most successful of all time.

'Cultural partnership'

"Mr Spielberg epitomizes the cultural partnership between our two countries," Sir Christopher said.

Spielberg was joined by his actress wife Kate Capshaw, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady, actress Holly Hunter and Senator John Warner, a Virginia Republican.

In a brief acceptance speech, Spielberg paid homage to British filmmakers who have influenced his work, including Alfred Hitchcock, Lord Attenborough and Carol Reed.

The director is due to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

Private dinner

His latest film AI (Artificial Intelligence) is due to be released later this year.

The film director is not the first American to receive an honorary British knighthood.

Other recent recipients include former presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State designate Colin Powell, General Norman Schwarzkopf, comedian Bob Hope, and conductor Andre Previn.

The ceremony took place after a private dinner for Spielberg and his family with the British ambassador.

He did not have to kneel or be tapped on each shoulder with a sword, as is the practice with full knighthoods.

The BBC's Tazeen Ahmad
"His glow in the dark finger pointing alien captured hearts in every strata of society"
The BBC's David Sillito
"He'll be able to use the letters KBE after his name"
See also:

29 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Steven Spielberg: Movie man
05 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Britain honours movie king
21 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg and Scorsese 'form dream team'
01 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg's top directing honour
04 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Spielberg accused in movie row
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