Luciano Pavarotti has been awarded the "Freedom of the City of London" at a ceremony at the Guildhall. This is not, as you might suspect, to honour that fact that he used be a very, very good singer. Neither is it, as you might hope, a bribe to make sure his protracted and long-delayed retirement will really be permanent. ("We'll give you this spiffy certificate, Signor, but only if you promise never to sing Cavaradossi again...") Rather, he is being awarded for his charitable work for the Red Cross.
The Freedom of the City is an honour originating in the Middle Ages, which entails, among other things, preferential admission at various City schools for the recipient's children, and an attractive certificate and book. Apocryphally, according Wikipedia, Freemen are entitled to drive livestock over London Bridge and be hanged with silk cord instead of rope. Most interesting, though, is the rumour that if City of London police discover a Freeman drunk on the street, they will put him in a taxi home rather than in jail. There is no word if this provision also applies to those intoxicated through excessive consumption of cheese.
Photo of Pavarotti with fellow noted humanitarian Bono taken from U2station.com.