The Queen just turned down an award – because she doesn't feel old enough

·3 min read
ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 16: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Queen Elizabeth II attends QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse on October 16, 2021 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
The Queen, showing no sign of feeling old. (Getty Images)

The Queen is always youthful in outlook – but at 95, it might be assumed she's feeling her age.

Apparently not, however, as in a charming letter, her assistant private secretary has just turned down the "Oldie of the Year" award on her behalf, on the basis that she really doesn't feel old enough. 

The Oldie Magazine held its annual awards this week, but although the ultimate accolade was offered to Her Majesty, organisers swiftly received a written reply on headed Balmoral Castle writing paper.

Her assistant private secretary Tom Laing-Baker wrote to organiser Gyles Brandreth: 

"Thank you for your letter of 30th July, addressed to Sir Edward Young, asking if The Queen would accept The Oldie of the Year award.

"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.

"This message comes to you with Her Majesty's warmest best wishes." 

Sir Edward Young is the Queen's private secretary, who would have passed on the request to Her Majesty.

Although the Queen did not attend the award ceremony, the royal presence was represented by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

She was joined at the glittering event, held at the Savoy Hotel, by William Roache, Delia Smith, Barry Humphries and Sir Geoffrey Hurst.

The Duchess of Cornwall attends the The Oldie of the Year Awards, at the Savoy Hotel, London. Picture date: Tuesday October 19, 2021.
The Duchess of Cornwall attends the the Oldie of the Year Awards at the Savoy Hotel, London. (Reuters)

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Winners included Roache, 89, who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, having begun his tenure in 1960, and Lady Glenconner, author of the bestseller Lady In Waiting: My Life In The Shadow Of The Crown.

The Oldie Magazine was launched 25 years ago by Richard Ingrams and the late Alexander Chancellor. 

"Their aim was to create a free-thinking, funny magazine, a light-hearted alternative to a press obsessed with youth and celebrity," said current editor Harry Mount.

"The Oldie is ageless and timeless, free of retirement advice, crammed with rejuvenating wit, intelligence and delight."

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The yearly awards celebrate those who make a virtue of their age. According to Gyles Brandreth, Richard Ingrams decreed that to win, "you can’t simply be an elderly achiever: you also need to show that you still have 'snap in your celery'.”

The last ceremony was held in 2019, and the overall winner was dancer and TV personality Lionel Blair, now 92.

Leslie Caron arriving for A Gala Performance of An American in Paris in aid of the Dancers' Career Development charity held at the Dominion Theatre in Camden, London.
Leslie Caron arriving for A Gala Performance of An American In Paris in aid of the Dancers' Career Development charity held at the Dominion Theatre in Camden, London. (PA)

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Though the Queen is admittedly older than that, she's clearly not ready to accept a limiting description such as "Oldie".

With a packed autumn schedule, a full year of celebrations and a round-Britain tour planned for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, she's in no danger of hanging up her handbag.

She still drives and has just given up drinking to remain in peak condition for as long as possible. She also recently acquired and trained two new dogs, despite saying she might not replace her last corgis.

This year's winner of the Oldie of the Year award has just been named as actor Leslie Caron, 90. And she still has five years on the Queen. 

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