29 NOVEMBER 2007

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In a proud day for the royal family, Zara Phillips became the first senior member of the Windsor clan to receive an MBE – collecting the award from her grandmother the Queen.

Zara's choice of outfit for the occasion - a gold-trimmed, black military frock coat - prompted the monarch to whisper: "You look lovely" as she pinned on the medal.

Watched by her mum, Princess Anne and rugby star boyfriend Mike Tindall, the 26-year-old horse-riding champion curtsied and kissed her grandmother on both cheeks, before showing off her award outside Buckingham Palace. Her brother Peter was also at the ceremony, accompanied by his Canadian fiancée Autumn Kelly.

Earlier, Zara – who won gold medals at the 2006 World Equestrian Games - had shown other recipients the proper way to curtsy as they approached the dais.

During Wednesday's ceremony Anne's husband, Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence also received an medal. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath, an honour usually given to senior members of the military or civil service.

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The 26-year-old equestrian champion was accompanied to the Buckingham Palace ceremony by her rugby star boyfriend MikePhoto: © PA
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Her mother and stepfather, who received an honour of his own during the investiture, watched the proud momentPhoto: © PA