Steve Jobs Declines UK Speaking Invite, Denied Knighthood

| News

Apple CEO Steve JobsThe Telegraph of London reported Tuesday that an effort to bestow an honorary knighthood by the United Kingdom on Apple CEO Steve Jobs was blocked by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s administration because Mr. Jobs declined a speaking inviation for Mr. Brown’s party, Labour. Mr. Brown denies the claim, but the member of Parliament (MP) who lead the effort to transform Mr. Jobs into Sir Steve told the newspaper that’s what he was told.

OK, we have to stop ourselves right there, because even had Mr. Jobs been granted a knighthood, he could not have called himself Sir Steve - a technicality reserved for subjects of the Queen. He could, however, include the initials OBE after his name, signifying that he is an honorary member of the Order of the British Empire. Such is the case for Bil Gates, and even Bono, who is a citizen of Ireland, and not a British subject.

In any event, an unnamed “senior Labour MP” told The Telegraph that he wanted to recognize Mr. Jobs’s contributions to technology by seeing him awarded an honorary knigthhood, which is roughly the reasons that Mr. Gates was himself knighted (honorarily).

“Apple has been the only major global company to create stunning consumer products because it has always taken design as the key component of everything it has produced,” the MP said. “No other CEO has consistently shown such a commitment.”

Plans to this end were well on their way, with Apple Inc. aware of the proposal. According to the MP, the whole plan was in the “final stages of approval,” but Downing Street - the name given to the seat of power of the UK’s Prime Minister.

The problem, according to the MP, was that then-PM Gordon Brown had wanted Mr. Jobs to speak at Labour’s annual meeting, but that Mr. Jobs declined. The implication is that Downing Street blocked the knighthood as retribution.

This charge was indirectly refuted by a spokesperson for Mr. Brown, who told the newspaper, “Mr Brown did not block a knighthood for Steve Jobs.” Note that this isn’t the same as saying that his administration didn’t block it, but that’s likely just nitpicking.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

wab95

That Mr Brown did not personally block the knighthood of SJ (and no, he could not have called himself ‘Sir Steve’, although that would not have stopped the same in the blogosphere) is undoubtedly technically correct, i.e. the final decision was not his. While many people covet these things, in SJ’s case, it would have been of no substantive consequence.

Lee Dronick

This does not mean that he won’t be honored with a knighthood in the future.

although that would not have stopped the same in the blogosphere

Tell me about it smile

wab95

This does not mean that he won?t be honored with a knighthood in the future.

Indeed not. The man will be feted far into the future.

Tiger

Well, it was 2009, so I’m still finding this a bit stale to consider as news. It does sound like Brown got his nose a bit wrinkled though.

Bridged

If he’d got it, which of course he deserved to, he would have been entitled to have KBE after his name (OBE is of an Officer; K is for Knight)

pattii

What?
Steve Jobs, CEO, GOD
Who needs more letters than that?

iJack

..had Mr. Jobs been granted a knighthood, he could not have called himself Sir Steve - a technicality reserved for subjects of the Queen.


Not so.  There are all kinds of people who are Sir Somebody, but not subjects.  In so far as there is a perceived problem, it lies with the US Constitution, Article 1, in Section 9.

“9.8 No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

Since Jobs is not employed by the US Government, he would be exempt from that restriction.

Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Caspar Weinberger, and a whole slew of American entertainers have knighthoods, and while it’s a widely held view that they may not use the title “Sir” in their names, I know of no law which prohibits it.

wab95

Not so.? There are all kinds of people who are Sir Somebody, but not subjects.? In so far as there is a perceived problem, it lies with the US Constitution, Article 1, in Section 9

Point well-taken. My comment rather had more to do with the etiquette of office than it did US Constitutional constraints, which conceded, would allow a non-sitting US government employee to receive and enjoy all the benefits of such title. The historical use of the title ‘Sir’ was not originally conceived for the honorary knighthood.

Then again, etiquette stipulates that one does not ‘hug the queen’, yet here too etiquette has been less than perfectly observed.

iJack

Point well-taken. My comment rather had more to do with the etiquette of office than it did US Constitutional constraints, which conceded…


Well actually, the quote and my comment were directed at Bryan, not you.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for the note, iJack, but I am fairly certain of the rules/custom as stated in the article from the standpoint of the Brits.

Let me know if you have something authoritative on the subject. I want the article to be accurate, but the research I did when putting the piece together led me down the path as written.

Log-in to comment