Saturday, 2:15 PM
By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts will receive an honorary knighthood, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced during his address this morning to a joint session of Congress.
A British government official said Queen Elizabeth is bestowing the accolade to Kennedy in part for his services to Northern Ireland, but also for his work over a lifetime providing greater access to healthcare for children and greater access to education around the world.
"I hope that you will allow me to single out for special mention today one of your most distinguished senators, known in every continent and a great friend," Brown said. "Northern Ireland today is at peace, more Americans have healthcare, children around the world are going to school, and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy."
Brown drew a sustained standing ovation from members of Congress for his announcement, and again when he called him "Sir Edward Kennedy."
Brown said he spoke to Kennedy on Tuesday night to tell him of his latest honor.
The ailing lawmaker has been recuperating and receiving treatment for brain cancer in Florida but is expected back in Washington either today or Thursday.
Brown, who met with President Obama on Tuesday, also plans to reinforce the friendship and cooperation of Britain and Europe for the United States.
He said he wanted to renew the special friendship between the two countries and said that America was not only the "indispensable" nation but the "irrepressible" one.