The Princess Royal presided over an Investiture Ceremony at St James’s Palace, awarding Britons for their work in fields including healthcare, justice, and arts and culture.
Among those honoured was Claire Horton, the chief executive of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, who was named a Commander of the British Empire for her services to animal welfare.
Speaking to the press afterwards, she said, “I’m very proud, and I will be really clear, it’s me that’s received this today, but ultimately it’s testament to the work of an awful lot of people over many years in Battersea and our colleagues in the sector.”
For his services to cancer research, Francis Benali, a former footballer who played for Southampton, received an MBE. Benali has raised £1.2 million for Cancer Research UK by completing a series of challenges.
He told the press that Princess Anne had an unusual question for him when he received his honour: “She said, and it brought a smile straight to my face, ‘Have you run here today?’ I found that very amusing.
“She said something right at the end, she said ‘it’s great fundraising work that you’re doing but look after your body as well’. And I said that’s what my family have been saying for a long time now, so maybe I need to take it onboard a little bit.”
Princess Anne is one of a handful of royals who undertake Investiture Ceremonies. The Queen, the Prince of Wale and the Duke of Cambridge, are the only other three who carry out this duty.
Investiture Ceremonies had been put on hold for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic and recently restarted at St James’s Palace to honour those awarded for their services in 2020 and 2021. In a normal year, there may be upward of 30 separate ceremonies at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, and on occasion, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
The full honours for yearly Investiture Ceremonies are announced twice a year by the Cabinet Office: New Year’s and on The Queen’s official birthday in June.