Actor James Martin said he bonded with Prince of Wales over football

Actor James Martin said he bonded with the Prince of Wales over “football” during his investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Martin, who starred in the award-winning short film An Irish Goodbye, has Down’s syndrome and said the honour meant a lot to him and to other people with disabilities.

The actor, who was made an MBE for services to drama in Northern Ireland in the New Year Honours list, said he and William, who is president of the English Football Association, “have something in common: we both like football” when they met on Wednesday.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
James Martin said he chatted to the Prince of Wales about football during the investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He said they also “talked about things in the movie” which won several awards in 2023 including the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film and the Bafta for Best Short Film.

“We talked about the Baftas,” he added.

Martin said his honour “means a lot not just for people with Down’s Syndrome, but a lot of people in that particular area”.

“It doesn’t really matter what disabilities, people come up to me,” he said.

“Whether it’s hidden disabilities like autism or physical disabilities like hearing or blind, they will still come up to me and say ‘aren’t you the one with the Oscar and the Bafta?”

He added: “It’s really lovely to have.”

An Irish Goodbye
An Irish Goodbye won an Oscar on James Martin’s 31st birthday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Martin works with Mencap, a charity which supports those with learning disabilities and Down’s Syndrome.

“I do a lot of work with Mencap which gives advice to families on disabilities and it’s really nice that Mencap is a two-way organisation.

“I have found another way to help people, so that’s really my main goal,” he said.

Martin, who was celebrating his 31st birthday on the day An Irish Goodbye won an Oscar, said the difference between the MBE and Oscar was that the MBE was his own to keep.

“It’s mine for life,” he said, adding: “And I know that I will keep it really safe.”

“It’s always nice when you win something like an MBE, it means you can talk with the royal family.”

Martin is also appearing in short film Fairview Park, as the brother of a man who is preyed upon by a gang of self-described “Queer-bashers” in Dublin in 1982.

The film is based on the true story seen as a major catalyst for Ireland’s gay rights movement.