Britain’s Queen Elizabeth receives Israel’s President Shimon Peres, and presents him with the order of St Michael and St George, at Buckingham Palace

 First ever knighthood for Israeli President


(Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the Israel Embassy, London)
His Excellency Shimon Peres, the President of the State of Israel, was awarded today the Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) by Her Majesty, the Queen Elizabeth II. President Peres was awarded the title during  an audience with Her Majesty held  in Buckingham Palace at midday today.
After the meeting Peres said: "this honour was not bestowed upon me personally, but upon the entire State of Israel. It reflects a public recognition of Israel and a public recognition of the importance of the relations between the two states”
According to President Peres, the visit was pleasant and friendly, and the Queen had expressed a genuine interest in Israel and the challenges it faces. The two discussed at length the current global financial crisis, and Peres was informed that the UK plans to organise a second global economic conference after President-elect Obama begins his term. After the meeting, the Queen escorted President Peres out of the room, and was introduced to his entourage, much to their surprise and excitement.
The President gave the Queen a letter of credence signed by Her Majesty’s father, King George the sixth, in 1949, by the first Israeli Ambassador to the UK . In addition, the President presented the Queen with a pair of candlestick holders encrusted with silver pomegranates.
Later today, President Peres will meet His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Clarence House. Afterwards, the President will meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the two leaders will issue a brief joint statement.
The Order of St Michael and St George is awarded to men and women of high office who rendered extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country. Foreigners can be appointed as honorary members. During 2007 this distinguished honour was awarded to former General Secretary of the United Nation, His Excellency Kofi Annan.