In a distorted, fun-house mirror fashion, there’s a kernel of truth to Rudy Giuliani’s story. Queen Elizabeth II gave him a knighthood in recognition of his efforts as New York City mayor during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. All the rest, however, seems to be embellished fiction. According to the fact-checking website Snopes.com, Giuliani, as an American, was granted an honorary knighthood, which is the highest distinction a non-British citizen can receive from a ruling royal, but not a “substantive” one, which is only given to U.K. or Commonwealth citizenry.
Its very nature does not in any manner usurp the citizenship. In addition to this, the Los Angeles Times explained shortly following Giuliani’s bestowment, his substantive knighthood did not come with a full title (meaning, in this case, sans the honorific of “Sir Rudy”). As Snopes noted, it’s possible for those given honorary knighthoods to change to “substantive” ones if they pursue and receive U.K. citizenship, but that comes with a set of standards — for instance, doing the bare minimum to attain it, like establishing U.K. residency as a non-citizen, which Giuliani has never done.
At this time, it is unclear why Giuliani shared this proven false anecdote at his 9/11 anniversary speech.