Queen Elizabeth II.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In November 2008, Queen Elizabeth II of England conferred an honorary knighthood on Shimon Peres. He received the Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, typically given to individuals who have contributed to comity between nations. This symbolically makes him one of her subjects. In fact, several newspapers reporting on the event headlined it “Arise Sir Shimon...”
It was only natural therefore, that Sir Shimon would be among the first Israelis to wish the queen well on her 90th birthday.
Although the queen is a blue blood and Sir Shimon’s title is only of an honorary nature, he is two-and-a-half years older than she and can look back on turning 90 with a degree of authority and experience. In his birthday greeting (delivered in a video) he told the queen that from his own experience, life begins at 90 and gets better and better.
“It is really a blessing not just a wish, a blessing to you, to us, that you will continue to guide, to inspire, to offer a smile to the young and the old and make our lives different, despite all the problems and wars we went through.”
Peres praised the queen as “a great leader for the free world and a great hope for coming generations.”
He also spoke of the values which the queen inspires and called her a beacon of light to her nation and a source of inspiration to individuals around the world.
The queen chose to mark her entry into her next decade with a relatively modest celebration. By contrast Peres, celebrated his 90th birthday in Jerusalem with a lavish international conference and a concert that included Barbra Streisand, as well as live greetings from former British prime minister Tony Blair, former US president Bill Clinton, and a video greeting from US President Barack Obama.