Angelina Jolie is the kind of Hollywood royalty who could go by her first name alone, but her work off camera has just resulted in her moniker getting much longer. On Friday, reported the BBC, she was made an honorary dame by the Queen of England for her U.K. foreign policy service and the campaign to end war zone sexual violence.
The queen presented Jolie with the insignia of an Honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace. Because Jolie is American, she cannot be named simply Dame Angelina Jolie but must be content with Honorary Dame Angelina Jolie.
In addition to her storied movie career and tabloid love life, the Oscar winner and “Maleficent” star, who recently wed longtime partner Brad Pitt, works as a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and in 2012 she co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.
Jolie first learned of the award when she was co-chairing the End Sexual Violence In Conflict global summit in London with William Hague, then Britain's foreign secretary. That summit highlighted the plight of women in war zones. For example, during war, perpetrators of sexual violence against women are rarely put on trial. This kind of violence has been used in conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda, Libya and Syria. Since the mid-1990s, the U.N. and other organizations have worked to empower women who are survivors of sexual violence during wartime.
In 2013, Jolie and then-U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague went to the Democratic Republic of Congo, campaigning to end the use of rape as a war weapon by soldiers there. Soon after, G8 foreign ministers pledged $36 million to develop international standards for the investigation and prosecution of rape used as a war weapon, and Hague praised Jolie as having been involved “every step of the way in developing the initiative.” Jolie spoke before the foreign ministers, declaring that those who had been raped during war had for too long “been the forgotten victims of war: responsible for none of the harm, but bearing the worst of the pain.”
When Jolie was first told she would receive the honor, she said that it meant “a great deal … to receive an honor related to foreign policy.”