Soccer ace David Beckham arrived at London's Buckingham Palace this morning (27NOV03) to receive his ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE (OBE) by QUEEN ELIZABETH II.

The ENGLAND captain - clad in formal top hat and tails - was accompanied by his pop star wife VICTORIA as he made his way through the palace gates in a swanky silver BENTLEY vehicle.

Following behind the couple, in a separate Bentley, were Beckham's proud grandparents, who were invited to watch the investiture.

A delighted Beckham told reporters it was "the best honour" he'd ever received, adding, "It's great to receive an award for playing football, for something I love doing."

He also took the chance to thank those who have helped shape his career, "It's not just for me but for Manchester United, England, all of my teammates and my family."

Although all eyes were on her sportsman husband, former SPICE GIRL VICTORIA stole some of the limelight by wearing a dramatic designer hat, replete with black feathers, for the auspicious occasion.

The England captain spoke of how supportive his wife had been of his career and said, "I love her a lot. She's my wife, she's going to be with me whatever happens."

David and Victoria left the palace after the ceremony to join their family - including young sons Brooklyn, four, and ROMEO, one - for a celebratory lunch at an undisclosed location.

Beckham, who now plays his club football for Spain's Real Madrid, is being honoured for his services to English football.

27/11/2003 13:44