Steve Jobs Declines UK Speaking Invite, Denied Knighthood

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.