The Queen has received many accolades over her 95 years, but one she is refusing to accept is the Oldie of the Year award, believing she does not meet the criteria and explaining that “you are as old as you feel”.
She “politely but firmly” declined the award, which is given annually to celebrate the achievements of members of the older generations who have made a special contribution to public life, although she sent organisers her “warmest best wishes”.
With the Queen’s platinum jubilee to be celebrated next year, the author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, who is the chairman of the awards, believed she more than qualified for the title, writing to her office to inquire whether she would accept it.
However, in a letter published in the November issue of the Oldie magazine, her assistant private secretary, Tom Laing-Baker, wrote: “Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel, as such the Queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept, and hopes you will find a more worthy recipient.”
Previous winners since the award’s inception 29 years ago have included Nobel laureates, community care nurses and veteran athletes, as well as Sir John Major, Dame Olivia de Havilland and David Hockney, to name a few.
Brandreth revealed that the actor Dame Maureen Lipman, one of the judges, raised the prospect of the magazine honouring the Queen in recognition of her leadership during the pandemic, and before the jubilee.
He described the letter he received in response from Balmoral Castle as “lovely”, writing: “Perhaps in the future we will sound out Her Majesty once more.”
The late Duke of Edinburgh was named Oldie of the Year in 2011 to mark his 90th birthday. Philip wrote a letter of appreciation, joking: “There is nothing like it for morale to be reminded that the years are passing – ever more quickly – and that bits are beginning to drop off the ancient frame.
“But it is nice to be remembered at all.”
The Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen’s daughter-in-law, joined Brandreth for the publication’s first in-person awards ceremony since 2019 at the Savoy hotel in London on Tuesday. As for the Queen, she was due to host a reception at Windsor Castle for international business and investment leaders to mark the Global Investment Summit.