U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy has been awarded an honorary knighthood from Britain.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the honor Wednesday in Washington in an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Brown said a great debt is owed to the life and courage of the senator, saying that Northern Ireland is now at peace, more Americans have health care, and children around the world are going to school.

Knighthoods are bestowed by Queen Elizabeth, but recipients are selected by the British government or an advisory committee.

The brother of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, 77-year-old Edward Kennedy has served in the Senate since 1962.

He underwent surgery last year for a cancerous brain tumor and suffered a seizure January 20 at U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration luncheon.

Other Americans to receive honorary knighthoods include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Unlike British knights, people with honorary knighthoods are not entitled to use "Sir" or "Dame" before their names.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters