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Our artist's impression of how we believe Sir Bill may appear todayMicrosoft employees take note: philanthropic rich bloke Bill Gates should now be formally addressed as Bill Gates KBE (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) - following a quick tap on the shoulder from Her Imperial Majestyness Liz II at Buck House this morning.

The Queen has been pacing up and down the corridors of her London residence for over 12 months - pausing only to kick the occassional corgi - awaiting a window in the MS supremo's diary during which she might accord him the honourary knighthood announced more than a year ago.

Sir Bill joins an illustrious list of fellow American awarded the coveted KBE. Her Maj has already deployed the sword on Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr., Rudolph Giuliani and Bob Hope. In Gate's case, however, the title acknowledges not the relentless pursuit of world peace (Reagan, Bush), the cleansing of the streets of New York in the style of Travis Bickle (Giuliani), or, erm [insert some suitable acheivement here - ed] (Hope), but rather "Gates’ contributions to improving health and reducing poverty in parts of the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the developing world", as the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office put it.

And if that wasn't enough, Gates was also recognized for his "contribution to enterprise, employment, education and the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom". Crikey.

Of course, what is said as Liz unsheathes her mighty sword of state is purely a matter for the monarch and the honouree. We sincerely hope, though, that Prince Chaz pressed upon his mother the necessity to take Sir Bill to task on deficiencies in XP SP2 and berate his company's tardiness in plugging the gaping holes in Internet Explorer.

Charles, naturally, runs organic Linux on a recycled cardboard PC powered by methane from hunting hound excrement. We find it inconceivable that he does not have an opinion on the Windows OS and hoped to use the investiture as an opportunity to raise his concerns about the effect of bundled software on the environment.

Having said that, perhaps Mr Gates and Mrs Windsor chose simply to talk about how staggeringly rich they both are - which is why Gates is in a position to fund his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Windsor owns an enormous palace in which to honour him for the same.

As for Sir Bill of Redmond, the evidently-moved Knight declared after the ceremony:

"I am humbled and delighted. I’m particularly pleased that this honour helps recognise the real heroes our foundation supports to improve health in poor countries. Their incredible work is helping ensure that one day all people - no matter where they are born - will have the same opportunity for a healthy life, and I’m grateful to share this honour with them.

"This honour is particularly poignant given the deep connections Microsoft enjoys with the United Kingdom. Over the past 23 years we have benefited greatly from strong business alliances and the tremendous wealth of talent and creativity of our UK employees and researchers. The UK was the first country in which Microsoft set up a subsidiary outside the US, and our experience in the UK has been significant in shaping our international growth. The companies and organisations that we have supported and partnered with since, and their employees, have been an important part of the positive impact technology has had on economic growth and on the lives of people in the UK. I am proud of this special relationship and the role we have helped to play in the development of the UK technology industry."

Blimey, it fair brings a tear to your eye. Gawd bless yer, Sir Bill. ®

Bootnote

Yes, yes, we know he isn't really "Sir" Bill (more on why here), but you try getting a few cheap gags out of "Bill Gates KBE". Enough said.

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