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Royal Family snubbed by seven athletes who refused honours: ‘Ancestors turning in grave’

Marcus Rashford receives MBE at Windsor Castle

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Rashford was honoured at Windsor Castle for services to vulnerable children after his campaign to ensure no child went hungry in the UK resulted in the Government changing its policy on free school meals vouchers over lockdown. The 24-year-old said he would give his MBE to his mum Melanie Maynard, who raised him and his four siblings while working full time on minimum wage. Despite calls last month from his Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Rashford to focus on football, the winger vowed to continue campaigning to “give children the things I didn’t have when I was a kid.”

He said: “If I did have, I would have been much better off and had many more options in my life.

“For me it is a punishment for them not to be getting things like meals or supplies of books.”

While Rashford is one of a number of athletes to have accepted an honour from the Firm, many have snubbed an award due to its links with the UK’s imperial past, while others have felt they were simply not worthy.

European Cup winning footballer Howard Gayle, who was the first black footballer to represent Liverpool, turned down an MBE in 2016.

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The former winger, who also featured 116 times for Blackburn Rovers, was recognised for his work with the ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ campaign.

He wrote on Facebook in 2016: “I had to decline the nomination for the reason that my ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them.”

He added: “It would be a betrayal to all the Africans who have lost their lives, or who suffered as a result of Empire.”

Cricketer Bill Woodfull was the Australia captain best known for taking a stand against England’s controversial ‘bodyline’ tactics during the 1932-33 Ashes.

Woodful refused to retaliate to England’s game plan, which saw their team bowl at high speeds at the heads and bodies of Australian batsmen.

Woodful, who was also a teacher and headmaster away from cricket, turned down a knighthood for services to his sport in 1934, saying he would only accept an honour for his work in education.

He was ultimately awarded an OBE for services to education in 1963.

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who won two World Cups and took part in 148 tests for New Zealand allegedly turned down a knighthood while he was still playing.

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In 2011 the then-New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he had spoken to McCaw about the possibility of a knighthood but the All Black turned it down as he was still playing rugby. 

Though he has never been formally offered a knighthood, in the 2016 New Year honours he was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand.

Peter Alliss, who passed away last year at the age of 89, was widely regarded as ‘the voice of golf’.

Yet before becoming one of the most iconic sports broadcasters of his generation, Alliss won 20 professional tournaments, including three British PGA championships as a player.

Alliss, who recorded five top-10 finishes in The Open and was subsequently inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, turned down an OBE in 1992.

Major Derek Allhunsen won team gold and individual silver in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City for equestrianism. 

Major Allhunsen, who was a grandfather at the time of his triumph, was offered an MBE for his achievement, but turned down the honour as he felt his team mates, Richard Meade, Jane Bullen and Reuben Jones, were equally as deserving.

In 1983 he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. 

Leonard Barden represented England in four Chess Olympiads, and is considered to have played a role in the ‘English chess explosions’ in the Seventies and Eighties, which saw England become Olympiad silver medalists. 

Despite the achievement, Barden turned down an OBE in 1985.

Maharajkumar of Vizianagram, who was affectionately known as ‘Vizzy’ was India captain during the team’s cricket tour of England in 1936.

Though England were easily beaten in the series, Vizzy who was lauded for his power and influence, was knighted by King Edward VIII in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Vizzy however renounced his knighthood when India gained independence in 1947.

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