The royal family loves wearing British designers, but there’s one American fashion brand that Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have all turned to for important occasions — Ralph Lauren. And on Wednesday, the storied designer was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for Services to Fashion by Queen Elizabeth.
The private ceremony took place in Buckingham Palace on Wednesday where Lauren, 79, was presented with the honorary knighthood by Prince Charles. For the occasion, Lauren wore a black tuxedo and was accompanied by his family, wife Ricky Lauren and their children, son David Lauren with his wife Lauren Bush Lauren, son Andrew Lauren, and daughter Dylan Lauren with her husband Paul Arrouet.
“To have the honorary KBE conferred on me by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and presented to me personally by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is an honor I have humbly accepted,” Lauren said in a statement. “I have always been inspired by the history, traditions and culture of Great Britain and the historic relationship our two countries have shared. This is one of the most meaningful honors bestowed at this very special moment in my 50th Anniversary.”
Lauren is the first American designer to receive such an honor. Other American recipients of U.K. KBE or MBE include Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, former New York City Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani, plus Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg and Bill and Melinda Gates.
The brand, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, has a special tie to London. The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research opened at The Royal Marsden in June 2016, and is at the forefront of international breast cancer research, with a focus in the field of molecular testing. It has been committed to leading research into early diagnosis and the development of new treatments.
This month, the Ralph Lauren Corporation will fund the building of a new state-of-the-art facility at The Royal Marsden, bringing together more than 300 researchers alongside 140,000 expected patients each year.
“I warmly congratulate Ralph Lauren on this award that recognizes these efforts and achievements over the past 50 years. In his storied career in fashion, business, and philanthropy, Mr. Lauren has played a key role in forging transatlantic cultural and economic connections,” British Consul General to New York and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for North America, Antony Phillipson, said in a statement when the news was announced in November 2018.
“As creator and visionary of the Ralph Lauren brand worldwide, Mr. Lauren has been a vanguard for the global fashion industry and American style for nearly half a century,” Phillipson said. “In addition, monumental philanthropic efforts, especially in the realm of public health, cancer research and treatment in both the US and the UK, have led to benefits felt by citizens around the world.”
Members of the British royal family have worn the brand on multiple occasions.
Meghan Markle wore a Ralph Lauren striped button-up with white culottes to Wimbledon in 2018 on her first solo outing with Kate Middleton. Middleton wore a black and white Ralph Lauren shirtdress just days after giving birth to Princess Charlotte in May 2015. And Princess Diana famously wore a white lace halter neck Ralph Lauren gown to the 1996 White House dinner.
Throughout Lauren’s career he has also been honored with the Key to the City of New York from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the French Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur and the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He won Womenswear and Menswear Designer of the Year, Retailer of the Year and the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from The Council of Fashion Designers of America, as well as the CFDA’s Humanitarian Leadership Award and the American Fashion Legend Award.