Of Royal Importance

AP PhotosLewis Whyld/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth honored 2012 heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis at a ceremony last year.


Happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth! In honor of Her Royal Highness' 88th birthday, here are five athletes who have received honors at Buckingham Palace in recent years:

1. Jessica Ennis: The 2012 heptathlon gold medalist won over the world with her performance at the London Olympics and was even featured on a British stamp. She received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) from the Queen last year. Ennis called the experience "nerve-racking" and said she couldn't even remember what the Queen said to her immediately after.

2. Nick Faldo: The legendary golfer received a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987 but was bestowed knighthood (KBE) in 2009 from the Queen. He became just the second golfer in history to receive the prestigious honor, after Henry Cotton in 1988. As a result, Faldo is formally referred to as "Sir."

3. Andy Murray: Accepting the honor from Prince William last October because the Queen was physically unable, the 2013 Wimbledon champion received his Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in October of 2013. Murray was famously delayed en route to the ceremony due to a random drug test.

4. Rebecca Adlington: Moments after she became the first British swimmer in 100 years to win two Olympic gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, her teammate Cassie Patten said, "The Queen, if you're watching -- Dame Rebecca Adlington" to the camera. While Patten's demand hasn't yet quite come true, Adlington did receive her OBE in 2009.

5. David Beckham: The soccer superstar received his OBE in 2003 from Her Royal Highness and was named a candidate for knighthood in 2013. He ultimately lost out on the honors but will likely be considered again.