Prince William awards Marcus Rashford the MBE

Prince William awards Marcus Rashford the MBE at Windsor Castle in front of proud mother who inspired the Manchester United star to campaign for hungry children

  • Marcus Rashford has received his MBE in a ceremony at Windsor Castle today 
  • Footballer received award for leading the fight against child poverty last year   
  • His campaign saw Government provide free school meal vouchers for 1.3million

Marcus Rashford received his MBE for leading the fight against child poverty during a ceremony hosted by Prince William at Windsor Castle today.  

The England and Manchester United star, 24, appeared in high spirits as he spoke with the Duke of Cambridge and received his award as his proud mother Melanie Maynard watched on.

The footballer is being recognised for his campaign last summer to ensure no child in need went hungry, which forced the Government into a U-turn over providing free school meal vouchers for 1.3million children during the summer holidays. 

Rashford launched his drive after Parliament rejected proposals to provide the free meals for vulnerable children.

His petition urging politicians to go further in tackling child hunger hit 100,000 signatures just 10 hours after it was launched and resulted in the Government eventually changing policy. 

 Marcus Rashford received his MBE for leading the fight against child poverty during a ceremony hosted by Prince William

The footballer appeared in high spirits as he spoke with the Duke of Cambridge during the ceremony

 The footballer is being recognised for his campaign last summer to ensure no child in need went hungry

 Rashford arrived at Windsor Castle with his mother Melanie Maynard ahead of the ceremony

The athlete later said that he ‘couldn’t be more proud to call myself British’ after his campaign to provide free meals to children this Christmas sparked an outpouring of support across the country.

He told BBC Newsnight: ‘Growing up we didn’t have a lot, but we always had the safety net of the community. That community was my family.

‘When we stumbled, we were caught with open arms. Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses have wrapped arms around their communities today, catching vulnerable children as they fell.

‘I couldn’t be more proud to call myself British tonight. I am truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

‘You want to talk about ”celebrities” and ”superstars”, look no further than my Twitter feed and that’s exactly what you’ll find.’     

After he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year Rashford paid tribute to his mother and told the public to ‘pat themselves on the back’ for ‘surviving’ the pandemic-hit year of 2020. 

He told The Guardian: ‘She’s everything. Every positive characteristic you see in me is her. If I could describe her in three words it would be strong, protective, undefeated.

‘I was concerned for children just like me if the schools closed as part of the national lockdown. 

‘Without breakfast club and free school meals, I had very little. What would me and my mum have done?’

He also said he was ‘incredibly honoured and humbled’ to accept an MBE at the age of 22 and paid homage to his mother who ‘is the real deserving recipient of the honour’.

The footballer said: ‘I’m incredibly honoured and humbled. As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22. 

‘This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour. 

‘The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over. 

The Duke of Cambridge also made actress Dame Sheila Hancock a dame commander for services to drama and charity today

The actress (pictured receiving her award) been a part of British cultural life since the 1960s with roles on the stage, screen and television

Rugby player Alun Wyn Jones is made an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle

The Wales captain and Ospreys star (pictured speaking with Prince William) has been recognised for his services to Rugby Union Football in Wales

‘I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the Prime Minister, who recommended me for this honour, to support our children during the October half term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment. 

‘Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about. 

‘Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry. As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is never the child’s fault.’ 

The footballer, who was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester for his efforts to combat child poverty, also partnered with the food redistribution charity FareShare at the start of the first lockdown.

The charity takes food that cannot be sold in shops, for example due to packaging errors, and delivers it to thousands of organisations across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and food banks.

This year Rashford also announced he was teaming up with Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge to offer back-to-basics recipe ideas and culinary tips for low-income families to help tackle food poverty.

Today the Duke of Cambridge, who is hosting his first investiture since the pandemic began, also made actress Dame Sheila Hancock a dame commander for services to drama and charity.

Actress Dame Sheila Hancock after receiving her Damehood for services to Drama and to Charity

 MP Angela Eagle is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by the Duke of Cambridge

She has been part of British cultural life since the 1960s with roles on the stage, screen and television.

Dame Sheila, who was married to actor John Thaw before his death in 2002, started her career in the theatre, finding success in the West End and on Broadway.

Her career flourished with comedy performances on the BBC, with roles in sitcoms including The Rag Trade, Mr Digby Darling and Now, Take My Wife, and in recent years has appeared in movies including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. 

Rugby star Alun Wyn Jones is also being made an OBE for his services to Rugby Union football in Wales.

After being awarded for his services in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year Jones said: ‘It is a huge honour to receive such an accolade.

‘It is recognition for everyone that has supported me from grassroots and intermediate, to professional and international rugby.

‘It is for my family, those who aren’t here anymore and those who are still here and fully behind me and for all their support in what I have done and what I want to continue to do.’  

Ahead of the ceremony today the Duke of Cambridge said he was ‘pleased to be back’ carrying out investitures in person as he hosted his first one since the pandemic began.

He shared his thoughts in a personal tweet, which included a photo of an honour resting on a velvet cushion at Windsor Castle.

The duke’s signed message read: ‘Pleased to be back doing investitures in person, celebrating people across the UK who have gone above and beyond for their country and community. W’. 

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