JK Rowling receives prestigious Legion d'Honneur
JK Rowling has been made a knight of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest civilian award.
The Harry Potter author – whose great-grandfather was French – was given the award by the country’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, at a ceremony in Paris.
In fluent French, Rowling apologised to the crowd for giving Harry’s evil nemesis a French name.
Voldemort means either thief or flight of death in French but, Rowling insisted, the bad guy is ‘100% English’.
The writer thanked the French public for not holding a grudge, explaining that she was merely looking for a ‘name that evokes power and exoticism’.
Rowling’s fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, became a bestseller in France before it was even translated into French, making it the first English book to top the country’s sales charts.
Rowling also revealed that her great-grandfather was also made a Legion of Honour for his courage in World War I, and said she hoped he’d be pleased to know there were now two knights in the family.
The Legion of Honour was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th Century and is France’s elite national merit society.
Only French people can be officially made a member of the society but foreigners can be made honorary knights.
Rowling joins Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand as foreign recipients of the honour.