Steven Spielberg is to be knighted by Great Britain, an honor conferred on those who have made an important contribution to relations with the country.

"The award of an honorary knighthood recognizes Steven Spielberg's extraordinary contribution to the entertainment industry and the British film industry over the last 25 years," the British Embassy said Thursday.

The director will receive the honor from ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II at a Jan. 29 ceremony in Washington.

Spielberg's credits include Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Jaws and E.T. The Extraterrestrial.

Spielberg was on vacation Thursday and couldn't be reached, but his spokesman at DreamWorks SKG said he was honored.

"He was enormously pleased and really humbled by this. He has always had such wonderful feelings for the UK and the British film industry," Spielberg publicist Marvin Levy said.

Americans admitted to membership of British Orders of Chivalry are not called "Sir," but Spielberg can place the letters KBE after his name.