Rob Rinder: Forgive my swagger but I have been awarded an MBE — I feel glorious

Rob Rinder: Forgive my swagger but I have been awarded an MBE — I feel glorious

ou might have spotted some added swagger in my step recently, or maybe a minor improvement in my posture. Well here’s why – last Wednesday royal fingers finally twiddled with my lapel and officially stuck on the MBE. My mum too is now formally be-medalled and signed up. It was glorious.

When the email first came through from the Lord Chamberlain (or the Under-groom of the Backchamber or somesuch), it actually went straight through to my a quick double-check before deleting (I don’t want to miss any important messages about unexpected inheritances or enlargement pills).

That was when I noticed it looked pretty official – in fact, what with the multiple references to HMQ, I assumed I’d been summoned for speeding.

But I hadn’t: they’d offered me a gong for Holocaust education and awareness. I still thought it might be a mistake, but then the phone rang and mum told me she was getting one too.

Suddenly, it all made much more sense. In truth, I felt like a bit of an imposter in getting this honour. I’ve only managed to do what I have because of my platform – one I’ve been lucky enough to get through a certain amount of celebrity. My mum, however, has invested decades into her work at the 45 Aid Society. It was set up originally for the refugees who came to the UK seeking respite after being orphaned by the Shoah – and now, due to her and her colleagues, it’s become a vital global resource for Holocaust education. In other words, she deserves her honour a million times over, while I cadged one just by riding on her spectacular coat-tails. Nevertheless, even as glorified window-dressing, I found the whole experience overwhelmingly joyful.

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Windsor Castle glowed in the sunshine and my mum looked fabulous. When the Prince of Wales chatted to us he was charming, enormously well informed and utterly present (I did want to tell him he looks a lot like his mother but thought it best not). Most wonderful of all was meeting the other recipients. One woman had set up a clinic for the forgotten of Rotherham – a place where the most marginalised could come and receive primary healthcare. Another magnificent lady had devoted herself to setting up a horse-riding charity for the disabled. She is my grandma’s age and still goes along twice a week.

Everyone I met seemed to have stories like that and they hadn’t done it in expectation of honours – they had done it because they are incredibly good and public-spirited people. It’s a magnificent thing that they can go to a fairy-tale castle on a sunny day to have their nation say “thank you”. They left me feeling humbled and immensely privileged to be among them. Plus – as a bonus – the string quartet played a Lady Gaga medley as we came in.

In other news.

Talking of pop and royalty, a few years back, I was at the gym when a shy young girl in baggy clothes appeared to wander in from doing the gardening – then she started running on the machine next to me.

Well, it turned out to be Harry Styles (it was only later I realised and invited his mum on a date … see earlier cringe-inducing column). Ever since then I’ve been bathing my earholes in non-stop Harry. His last album, Fine Line, is undeniable, bona fide pop perfection. He’s become the Bowie of our time.

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His new song, As it Was, is jaw-droppingly good: it entirely confirms his place in that special gang of entertainers who began in a world of light-hearted semi-silliness before metamorphosing into artists of timeless genius.

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