England star Lauren Hemp does ‘first curtsy’ as she meets William at investiture

The 23-year-old Manchester City footballer was made an MBE for services to football.

Lauren Hemp
Lauren Hemp (Andrew Matthews/PA)

England and Manchester City footballer Lauren Hemp said she made her “first ever curtsy” as she was honoured by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle.

The 23-year-old was part of the Lionesses squad that won the 2022 women’s European Championship and finished runners-up to Spain in the women’s World Cup in August 2023.

She was made an MBE for services to football in the New Year Honours, and attended her investiture on Wednesday in a cream-coloured Victoria Beckham Mango suit.

Speaking afterwards to the PA news agency, Hemp said: “It was nerve-wracking, to be honest.

“We sat in a room and we got taught how to curtsy and what we needed to do to greet the prince, and I think just standing there and seeing him and being the next one to go was pretty scary.

“I managed to do my first ever curtsy.”

Hemp said she had a “good conversation” with William.

“He’s really interested in football which is obviously great,” she said.

“We spoke about the season, both for club and country. Obviously, playing football, he takes a massive interest in that.

“He asked me how many goals I’d scored this season. I’d not quite scored enough yet so I kept that to myself but he’s great and it was a great conversation, short and sweet but really nice.”

Lauren Hemp scoring for England at the World Cup
Lauren Hemp scoring for England at the World Cup

Speaking about what the MBE means for women’s football, she said: “It’s so important to have that because at the end of the day we just want to help grow the game.

“We’ve seen how much social media can affect things and how much things can be seen on every platform possible, and this only helps that.”

Hemp also spoke about her experience of discrimination on the pitch.

She said: “When I was younger I used to play in a boys’ team and there was always the odd parent or player on the boys’ team who were like ‘go back to women’s football’ or ‘it’s not for you’, but as soon as I (nut-)megged them a few times they forgave me and let me play.

“You probably wouldn’t find many women’s footballers who haven’t been subjected to some sort of negative language used in football.

“But we’re hopefully moving away from things like that and it’s going to be more equal going into the future.”

She said her advice to young girls would be to “just take it up just to see if you enjoy it, and if you don’t enjoy it then it’s obviously not for you, but I think the enjoyment for me has helped me throughout my career to push myself to be better and work harder”.

Lauren Hemp with William
Lauren Hemp with William (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Speaking about the example her MBE sets for other women playing football, she said: “I think we’ve seen over recent years how much women’s football is evolving and I think it’s important. If you can see it, you can be it.

“A lot of women’s football is now on TV, it’s being shown everywhere and it’s incredible for young girls to be able to see it and to dream of it.”

Hemp added that far more could be done to increase the growth of women’s football.

She said: “It’s about getting more games in men’s stadiums. Trying to make it a regular thing. I think each year you’ve got to keep topping the year before so it’s important we get more games there.

“It’s using the men’s as well as a platform to help the women to grow, whether that’s seeing more on men’s social media, supporting women and helping strengthen that.

“Get it all on TV, get as many games as possible. I think there’s probably not enough women’s football on TV at the moment, it’s maybe one game a week.

“Can we change that to three or four? And help the growth in that area as well.”