IRELAND and Ulster captain Rory Best has received an OBE from the Prince of Wales for services to rugby.
The British and Irish Lions hooker is Ireland's highest-ever capped forward with 113 appearances and led the team to a historic Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year.
The 36-year-old, from Craigavon in Co. Armagh, was originally announced as an OBE recipient in the Queen's Birthday Honours last June.
He took a break from international duty on Wednesday to travel to Buckingham Palace, where he exchanged words with a smiling Prince Charles after the medal was pinned to his jacket lapel.
The veteran forward led Ireland to a famous 16-9 win over New Zealand at Aviva Stadium in Dublin this past weekend, just two years after their 40-29 triumph over the All Blacks in 2016.
Rugby Union player Rory Best - currently the Captain of Ireland's national team - was awarded an OBE for his services to rugby. pic.twitter.com/RYHBhf3PVD
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) 21 November 2018
He was joined in central London by his parents, who have both been decorated with MBEs - dad John for services to agriculture and mum Patricia for services to the public sector.
Speaking at the Palace, Rory said: "I suppose they can't really believe it. When I first told my family they were shocked but absolutely delighted.
"It means a lot to our family, especially with mum and dad having received MBEs. It's a lovely family celebration.
"You play rugby because you love it and then all of a sudden you get these awards, but I think of all the individual awards I've received in my career this is certainly the highest."
The Ireland skipper joked that he'd now outshone his parents in terms of royal honours.
"It was quite funny telling them I'd gone one better than them," he said.
"I'll always refer back to Banbridge Rugby Club and that's where it all started for me, but there are so many people to thank for their help along the way that I couldn't even begin to name them.
"And it always comes back to mum, dad, my brothers and sisters, and my wife and children."