Peres receives honorary knighthood from the Queen

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 20, 2008

Queen Elizabeth awarded an honorary knighthood this morning to President of Israel Shimon Peres. Mr Peres was knighted with the Grand Cross of the order of St Michael and St George.

The Queen and Mr Peres met for about 30 minutes during which Mr Peres spoke to the Queen about Israel's history and current situation. Mr Peres gave the Queen two gifts: a letter written by her father, George VI, upon the official recognition by Britain of the state of Israel, and two silver candlesticks in the shape of pomegranates.

After the visit, Mr Peres described their meeting as "friendly and informal, the Queen asked me a lot of questions on Israel.

"I was very moved to be the representative who received this honour for the state of Israel," said the president. "The whole ceremony was not for me as an individual but a mark of respect for the country. I felt I was a shaliach mitzvah (representative of honour.)"

Mr Peres spoke to the Queen about the suffering of the town of Sderot and said that "the British learnt from the bible and we learnt from the British democracy."

This afternoon, Mr Peres met Prince Charles at Clarence House and invited the prince to visit Israel.

Tonight he will be meeting Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Prime Minister Gordon Brown who will host a dinner in his honour at Downing Street.

Last updated: 5:10pm, November 20 2008