Bill, Seattle loves you still, and apparently always will
Seattle Times : According to the British rules, we cannot call him Sir Bill. That is fine. As Americans, it is not our way; we did not say Sir Bob for Bob Hope, or Sir Rudy for Rudy Giuliani or Sir Alan for Alan Greenspan, all of them also Knights Commander of the British Empire.
William Gates III will have to make do with the initials "KBE" if he wants something more than the three sticks. He should be warned, though, that in this egalitarian land, the "KBE" will be made fun of, even in his own company.
He could take a cue from Wesley Clark, also a Knight Commander of the British Empire, for his services in the NATO war against Serbia. In his run for president, Clark is proudly "Gen. Clark" -- but never "Gen. Wesley Clark, KBE." Americans would consider it affected, and some might not vote for him if they knew what "KBE" meant.
The demure Miss Galore
Some honorees have turned down knighthoods. Authors Roald Dahl, Evelyn Waugh and J.G. Ballard reportedly did, as did comedian John Cleese and actress Honor Blackman, best known to Americans as Bond Girl "Pussy Galore."
It was all right to accept the award. We appreciate that Jack Straw, the British foreign minister, honored our Bill for his "profound impact on the British economy." He impacts us with even greater profundity.
But this is an informal part of an officially de-royalized republic. People here might adorn a name with "Ph.D." or even "C.L.U." but "KBE" is beyond the pale.
Bill knows that; it can be seen in his house: $50 million made to look like $2 million. Also, soon enough, in his name -- officially William Gates III, KBE; to us, as always, Bill.