'Cheers mate'! Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson receives MBE

Investitures are extraordinary days for the folk honoured - from those receiving a BEM right up to the Knights, Dames and, the rarest of rare, Companions of Honour and Order of Merit men and women.

Secrecy surrounds the process. Breathe a word when you get that magic, manilla envelope and you are warned, it will be "game off".

You wait several months before being slotted in at the Palace. You can only take a limited number of guests - your partner and a maximum of two children.

Once there, you are briefed, schooled, rehearsed, kept waiting, put in line, marched, shuffled, made "one among so very many" for what is your personal moment of singular honour.

The your name is called; you step forward, bow, and pause - as intructed by the splendid Colonel Ross.

Then it is over.

A family lunch or a surfeit of fizz with friends. Or both. Then it is just so many memories - a sparkling medal and a red leather box.

For the Royals, it is part of the routine. 'It is what we do' as George III was made to say in the film 'The Madness of King George', by Alan Bennett, to a truculent Prince of Wales on the steps of St Paul's.

They are briefed by aides; they have a few, very few, well chosen words; there is a mental stop-watch about their Royal person.

All that build-up and wind-down for you - but, for them, a short, sharp exchange with one of what are hundreds.

But they manage to make it matter and make it part of the magic.

So, today, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson MBE said "cheers, mate" to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Heir Apparent to the Crown of the United Kingdom, Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshall and Marshal of the Royal Air Force (plus all the Honours his mother has chosen to bestow upon him.)

Prince Charles put his arm on the shoulder of Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

But Charles extended a hand to Ben's trembling shoulder - a touch of reassurance, a gesture of affection and humanity.

Easy to do, so easy to get wrong.

It was perfect.

I thought it was magic, and reported 'magically' as only Paul Davies can.