The Kennedy Center Honors amount to a British Knighthood. These are hard to compare but getting a Kennedy Center Honor is about the most honorable reward that you can get in the United States. They are different but they are valued about the same when it comes down to it.
We have no royalty here in the United States, so we can not knight those who have excelled in performance as they do in the United Kingdom. However, getting a Kennedy Center Honors award is the equivalent because it honors those whom we consider to be the royalty of entertainment.
The Kennedy Center Honors are rewarded based on a life time of achievements in the performing arts while the British Knighthood is awarded for achievements, bravery, and service to the British government. I do not find the two comparable, much less would I hold a Kennedy Center Honors up to the status of a British Knighthood.
Annually, the president of the United States gives out his Medals of Freedom to individuals who have influenced the lives of Americans. Criteria are numerous, just as with a knighthood. The Medal of Freedom can be given to politicians, actors, scientists, doctors, lawyers, firefighters and any ordinary citizen worthy of such an award. Much like the monarch of the United Kingdom can only hand out knighthoods and lordships, only the president of the United States awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
No, the Kennedy Center Honors do not amount to a British Knighthood, because we have different political institutions, and it is difficult to compare one to the other. Kennedy Center Honors are different in that Americans are more independent from and critical of their government than the British are. It is the way the United States was founded, and it is still present, even in our award ceremonies.