22 June 2019: Ralph Lauren, esteemed American fashion designer, businessman, and philanthropist, has been made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for Services to Fashion. Mr. Lauren was presented with the honorary knighthood insignia by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Mr. Lauren serves as the executive chairman and chief creative officer of Ralph Lauren Corporation. Born in 1939 in the Bronx, New York, Mr. Lauren attended Baruch College, where he studied business and served two years in the US Army before pursuing his creative interests in fashion, ultimately growing his business into a global brand and a household name.
Over his career spanning more than five decades, Mr. Lauren has been recognized with the Key to the City of New York from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for his outstanding civic contributions, and the French Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, in recognition of his contributions as a designer, business leader, and philanthropist. He was also awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, recognizing his lifetime contributions as a great American and his leadership role in the preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America has awarded Mr. Lauren many high honors including Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year, Retailer of the Year, and the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. He also received the CFDA’s Humanitarian Leadership Award, the CFDA’s first-ever American Fashion Legend Award, and WWD’s inaugural John B. Fairchild Honor, and he was recognized for his Outstanding Achievement by the British Fashion Council at the British Fashion Awards.
Mr. Lauren’s philanthropic commitment focuses on those suffering disproportionately from cancer because they lack access to quality health care. Ralph Lauren Corporation established the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Ralph Lauren Corporation, in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, established the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care in Harlem, New York.
In London, Ralph Lauren Corporation made a generous donation toward The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research, which opened at The Royal Marsden in June 2016. The centre is at the forefront of international breast cancer research, with a focus in the field of molecular testing. The centre has made a major commitment to leading research into early diagnosis and the development of new treatments.
June 2019 marks the announcement of Ralph Lauren Corporation’s commitment to further support The Royal Marsden with a pledge toward the appeal to fund the building of a new state-of-the-art facility—the Oak Cancer Centre. Located at The Royal Marsden in Sutton, the Oak Cancer Centre will bring together more than 300 researchers alongside 140,000 expected patients each year, speeding up the translation of world-leading research into breakthroughs in treatment and care, and transforming the lives of cancer patients at The Royal Marsden and beyond.
Mr. Lauren is the first American fashion designer to be recognized with an honorary knighthood. Other notable American recipients of an honorary UK knighthood or damehood include former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush; former New York City Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani; Angelina Jolie; Steven Spielberg; Bill and Melinda Gates; and Angela Ahrendts.
The UK honors system recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the nation and includes non-British nationals who receive honorary awards for their important contribution to British interests. All British honors are awarded on merit, and honorary awards are conferred by HM The Queen on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was founded in 1917. Mr. Lauren may forthwith put “KBE” after his name if he wishes.