A Visit to The Palace

On the 19th of April 2017 I had the great honour of attending Buckingham Palace, where I received my MBE from Prince William.

I was allowed to take 3 guests with me, my guests were my Mam, Dad and a friend.

We arrived in London the night before and were booked into the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel.  We were surprised when the staff at Reception informed us we had been upgraded to a Suite overlooking the London Eye and we had access to the executive dining area and lounge.

That night Mum & Dad took us out for a curry in London.

The following day – we met for breakfast in the exec lounge and had a great view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – looking over Westminster Bridge.

Arriving by car at Buckingham Palace is quite nerve wracking.  We had been allocated a space in the inner courtyard – so that meant driving through crowds of people waiting outside.

Once inside the Palace I had to leave my guests and follow the other award recipients into a series of formal briefings.  Listening to the Queen’s staff explaining procedures and protocols – that dated back to Queen Victoria – was quite special.

Awards were received in alphabetical order – so I was one of the last to go into the formal ballroom.  I walked up to one of the officials and waited until my name was called.  I then had to walk forward and bow to Prince William before he shook my hand.  He asked me about swimming, Rio and my aspirations for the future – he was genuinely interested and showed a connection with young people.

After the ceremony we left the main building and returned to the courtyard for photographs.

I met up with some of my team-mates and fellow gold medalists from Rio2016 – Steph Slater, Mikey Jones, Bethany Firth and (my flat-mate from Rio) Aaron Moores.

As we finished, I spotted David Beckham and asked if it was OK to get a photograph.  David had been attending to support his wife, Victoria, who received an OBE during the same ceremony. 

As we left Buckingham Palace – Mum & Dad had a surprise for me.  Instead of driving home – we turned towards Knightsbridge and parked at the Mandarin Oriental on Hyde Park where we had High-Tea in the Rosebery Lounge.  The staff really looked after us and we had some fantastic sandwiches and amazing pastries.