Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes today received her MBE from Her Majesty The Queen in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Hayes was awarded the prestigious accolade in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours earlier this year for services to football. Today the Londoner was presented with the medal itself at the notable royal residence in Berkshire, accompanied by her parents.
‘It was like a fairytale,’ an exuberant Hayes enthused after she emerged from the investiture. ‘I felt like a princess today.
‘I’m just honoured and humbled. You realise once you go in to a room with a group of people awarded for services to their industry that it was just a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime memory that I will never forget.
‘I didn’t think coming here that the Queen would be in residence, but when we drove up to park the car the police officer said to me that the lady of the house is home today.
‘I had about an hour-and-a-half to compose myself knowing the Queen was going to be giving me an award.’
Hayes, Chelsea Ladies boss since 2012, said she immediately felt she was ‘somewhere special’ when she came through the castle gates, welcomed first by beefeaters and then led up a spectacular staircase with armoury and sumptuous Christmas decorations.
She was then separated from her family to join the other people being honoured, who today included actor Eddie Redmayne and the astronaut Tim Peake. After plenty of interesting discussion about their respective careers, everyone present was taught how to curtsy. Hayes was then led through to a ‘humongous room with fantastic chandeliers’ where the Queen presented her with the medal, and as she did so she told our boss she had seen Chelsea Ladies in action on television in the FA Women’s Cup final.
‘I won’t lie, I got emotional after she had given me the medal. It seems bonkers to have been given an award for something I love doing. I can’t think of my passion as a service, it is just my passion. I’m in a privileged position but to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle with my parents – it really doesn’t get any better than that.’
Hayes was appointed Chelsea manager four-and-a-half years ago after an already long and distinguished career coaching in the women’s game. Since taking over, she has led us to the first major silverware in our history, in the form of the 2015 WSL title and the FA Women’s Cup crown, as well as our maiden European experience.
Later tonight, in Chelsea, the club will host a celebration to honour Hayes and her fantastic achievement.
- Chelsea TV will be airing a special documentary about Emma Hayes MBE at 6.45pm on Wednesday.