A diver from north-west London who last year battled to save the football team trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand has been made an MBE for his heroic actions.
Vernon Unsworth, from Walthamstow, was among the team who helped save the 12 boys who became trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave network by a flash flood in June last year.
The financial consultant was honoured for his service to cave diving on Wednesday at Buckingham Palace and described the experience in the Chiang Rai province as “very humbling and fascinating”.
But the 64-year-old’s heroics led to an extraordinary feud with Tesla chief Elon Musk after the rescue, over which he is suing the billionaire businessman for libel.
Mr Unsworth said Mr Musk’s small submarine he touted for the rescue amounted to a “PR stunt”, and Mr Musk retaliated by calling the diver a “pedo” in a tweet.
After receiving the MBE from Prince William, he said: “It doesn’t detract from today. I’ve really got to think about other people and give them the enjoyment they deserve.
“Today is about today and is not anything else.”
Mr Unsworth was among the British divers who answered a call by Thai authorities to join the vast search after the group disappeared in the cave system on June 23.
After the boys were discovered, rescuers still faced the treacherous task of getting the team safely, and the persistent threat of bad weather heightened the tension in a drama that gripped the world for more than two weeks.