Queen Elizabeth Knights Rudy Giuliani

02/13/2002 at 01:00 PM EST

When former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani heads back to New York after receiving his honorary knighthood from Britain's Queen Elizabeth -- as he did on Wednesday -- will his former constituents address him as "Sir"? Unlikely, he joked afterward at Buckingham Palace. "They won't call me that in Brooklyn," he said, "but there are places in Manhattan where they might." Giuliani -- who under convention is not allowed to title himself "Sir" because he is not British -- was jesting on the steps of the palace after he was honored for his work in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, reports PEOPLE's London bureau. Though mourning last Saturday's death of her sister Princess Margaret, the Queen, wearing black and a simple set of pearls, awarded as scheduled some 103 others besides Giuliani, including actress Zoe Wanamaker. The 75-year-old monarch even found a smile for the popular New York mayor, animatedly speaking with him for more than a minute as both clutched the bejeweled medal that was presented in an open box. He later told reporters, "I told her that I spoke for all of the people of New York and United States in thanking her for the tremendous support to the people of New York City during our time of crisis." The Queen told him that she had watched the horror on television and congratulated him on his leadership, adding, "I hope you have less stress in your life now." Speaking to PEOPLE after the palace ceremony, Giuliani, 57, said that the experience of being there overwhelmed him. "For an American, it gives you a sense of where we came from -- our legal system and our democracy. This is part of our heritage."

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