Watford elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill rubbed shoulders with Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth among others as she collected her MBE award at Buckingham Palace.
Mrs Thornhill, who has been at the borough's helm since 2002, describe the experience of receiving the honour “humbling”.
News of her MBE was announced in the summer and on Thursday she was presented the medal by Prince Charles.
She said: “As a Welsh girl I was very proud to have the Prince of Wales.
“What came out of it for me was that it was about ordinary people being recognised for quite special things.
“It was quite a humbling experience.”
Mrs Thornhill, who has a background in education entered local politics as Liberal Democrat councillor in 1992.
She then became the town’s first elected mayor in 2002 and has held the post ever since, winning re-election in 2006 and 2010.
The mayor said Prince Charles had been interested to hear she had been the country’s first female elected mayor.
She added: “I told him I had been re-elected twice and he said ‘you must be doing something right’.”