London Note

Feb. 13 2002 2:50 PM

London Note

Giuliani fulfilled.

Rudolph Giuliani and his girlfriend Judith Nathan flew to London from New York on Concorde and are staying at the St James Club Hotel, close to Buckingham Palace. This morning Giuliani (without kneeling and being tapped on the shoulder with a sword, as is demanded of homegrown knights) received an honorary KBE from the Queen, while New York Fire Commissioner Thomas von Essen and Police Chief Bernard Kerik, who flew with him, received more modest CBEs for their responses to September 11. Other Americans who have been made KBEs (Knights of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) include Presidents George Bush (father of W.) and Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Norman Schwartzkopf, Caspar Weinberger, Bob Hope, Billy Graham, and Steven Spielberg.

In speeches and interviews throughout the day, Giuliani hammered home his familiar comparison of New York in September with Britain in 1940, reminding Londoners how he drew inspiration from the spirit of the Blitz. In a BBC interview, Giuliani said, "The first thing that came to mind [on the morning of September 11] was how the people of London and the people of Britain … were able to withstand being bombed and ... were able to go on with their lives." In a speech at a Mansion House luncheon hosted by the Lord Mayor, he wore his new KBE on a ribbon round his neck and said how "emotionally fulfilling" it was to be in the British capital. Many Londoners must have wished it would work the same way for them. His speech wasn't the best he has given since 9/11—that was an address he gave to young recruits of New York's Fire Department on September 16—but the audience of City types seemed moved. Tonight, Giuliani was dining at Babylon, a rooftop restaurant on Kensington High Street, where he was the guest of honour at a party thrown by its owner, Richard Branson. "Babylon" was one of the derogatory words used to describe New York before Giuliani became mayor in 1993 and made it a safer city than London. There were about 1 million recorded crimes in London in 2001 compared 160,000 in New York. Now the only advantage London can boast over New York—apart, possibly, from its ability to deliver emotional fulfillment— is that it still has fewer murders (though even in the murder department, the gap is narrowing).