Squad and management receive medals February 9, 2006

England's Ashes heroes meet the Queen

Cricinfo staff

Michael Vaughan poses after receiving his OBE at Buckingham Palace © Getty Images
England captain Michael Vaughan and the rest of his Ashes-winning squad saw their achievements in winning last year's Test series against Australia recognised by the Queen in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace here Thursday.

Vaughan received his OBE from the Queen, as did England coach Duncan Fletcher, chairman of selectors David Graveney and team manager Phil Neale. The other 11 England players who took the field during the five-Test series received MBEs, the first rung on the ladder of the honours system. England women's captain Clare Connor also received an OBE after leading her team to victory in their Test series with Australia.

Kevin Pietersen, seemingly in recognition of the fact he was meeting the Queen, abandoned his trademark hairstyle for a more sober, dark look.

Andrew Flintoff and his MBE © Getty Images
"This is so special, to come to the Palace, meeting the Queen here and being back with all the rest of the boys," Vaughan said afterwards. "She was saying she watched the series avidly - but not all the time, because it got too tense for her and was a bit nerve-wracking."

The players and management were given a lunchtime reception following the official ceremony. "It was unbelievable ... a great feeling," Simon Jones admitted. "But it was nerve-wracking too, because you go out there and don't want to mess up."

Ian Bell agreed with Jones. "It is more nerve-wracking going in there than going out to bat. At least you have an idea what to expect then, but today I just didn't know what to expect when I first went into that room."

Pietersen describing the ceremony as "humbling" and Andrew Flintoff was equally overawed: "I didn't know what to expect beforehand ... but this is a little piece of history."