St Albans-based AA President receives OBE from Prince William at Buckingham Palace
PUBLISHED: 14:00 27 May 2016
Security eyes swivelled towards a St Albans OBE recipient recently, when he suddenly reached inside his pocket for a set of AA ‘Think Bike’ stickers to give to Prince William.
But there was no cause for alarm – AA president Edmund King was merely using the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace to spread the word about bike safety.
The St Albans man was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to road safety and was presented with his award at the palace on Friday May 13.
Edmund said he felt honoured to receive his New Year’s Honours accolade alongside police and armed forces recipients as well as some famous faces such as Chris Frome and Sir Martin Lewis.
He has worked across road safety in different roles for motoring organisations, road safety charities and think tanks for the last 25 years.
Speaking about his journey from St Albans to London ahead of the ceremony, Edmund said that his nerves did not settle until he caught sight of Buckingham Palace.
Normally recipients are only allowed to take three guests but he made a case for bringing his 85-year-old mum, along with his wife Deirdre and their children Finbar, Lucas and Eloise.
Luckily, even though his daughter did not have her ID with her as Beaumont School has her passport for a French trip, “the policeman believed us”.
He added that once ushered into a “splendid room we were told that Prince William would conduct the investiture.
“Our waiting room was like the National Gallery, full of priceless paintings by Van Dyke and Canaletto.
“We were led in groups of 20 through further delightful rooms with splendid clocks and a courtier put a small clip on our lapels for the medal.”
Edmund admitted his biggest fear was coughing, “as I had an awful niggling cough all week but the Strepsils seemed to do the job”.
Prince William told him his award was, “a long time coming. Well deserved for your road safety work and particularly the campaign Think Bikes as I am a motorcyclist and also [attend accidents involving riders] in the air ambulance”.
Edmund said that at that moment, he “couldn’t resist reaching into my inside pocket for a set of AA Think Bike stickers and I felt all security eyes on me”.
Giving them to Prince William, he said: “Your Royal Highness, these stickers are designed to go on your side mirrors to remind you to look out for cyclists and motorcyclists. Our next campaign will be on driver distraction and mobile phones.”
The prince said such a campaign was desperately needed, and wished him luck with it.
After the investiture Edmund said the day would “go down as one of the proudest and happiest of my life”.
He said the award reflected the efforts of past and present colleagues and road safety partners, adding, “I am particularly pleased the award was made for ‘services to road safety’ as I am passionate about making our roads safer and saving lives”.