Incoming Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts to be named Dame of the British Empire

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As she prepares for her new role as head of retail operations at Apple, outgoing Burberry Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts will be honored with another distinction: She's set to be named a Dame of the British Empire.

Ahrendts will be joined by Melinda Gates, philanthropist and wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The honor will be bestowed upon both women in the coming weeks, according to Vogue.

The title of dame is the female equivalent of knighthood, or being named a "sir," in the U.K. Damehood for a non-British national is said to be approved by the Queen, but is not awarded by a member of the royal family.

Apple hired Ahrendts last October to take overits retail operations with the new title of Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores. She won't take that position until this spring, as she is wrapping up her duties at Burberry.

The 53-year-old Ahrendts, born in Indiana, has spent most of her professional career in the fashion industry. In 2006 she was named CEO of Burberry, a luxury British brand established in 1856 that today has 11,000 employees.