Actress Barbara Windsor has said she is thrilled to be made a dame in the New Year’s Honours list, but is saddened by the way she has been judged as not being worthy.
The star, known as the feisty landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, is being given the honour for services to entertainment and charity.
The news was leaked over the weekend, and Ms Windsor has told Sky News how she feels like the press has “rained on her parade” by bringing up her past and questioning whether or not she should receive the top award from Buckingham Palace.
She said: “Out of nowhere, after everyone was being so nice and congratulating you, all of a sudden people start pulling out a whole list of things, because I was honest in my book, a whole page of things that kind of knocks you as they’re asking ‘why would (the award) go to her?’.
“I just thought ‘why do you want to rain on my parade?'”
She revealed that she wasn’t expecting a further honour after being made an MBE, adding: “For a little East End lady to be made a dame just for doing a job that she loves – that’s a bit good isn’t it?”
Dame Barbara, who is also well-known for her roles in the Carry On comedies of the 1960s and 1970s, launched this year’s poppy campaign on behalf of the Royal British Legion, and has been involved in high-profile work with Age UK and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
She said newspaper reports in recent days had upset her and taken the shine off the good news by describing her as an “unlikely dame”.
When asked if she agrees, she said: “Are you kidding? Some of the (existing) dames have got up to more naughty things than I have.
“It all comes out in the end, so at least it’s come out at the beginning with me… it’s all come out in the wash.
“I suppose I just wanted it all to be just wonderful with people saying ‘yes she deserves it’. But I’m afraid the business isn’t like that. I’m a nice lady and a good lady and I’ve worked hard all my life.”
Windsor began acting when she was 13 and has won two British Soap Awards as well as being nominated for a BAFTA.
A Buckingham Palace source was quoted in reports as saying: “The Queen was delighted when Barbara’s name was put forward.
“Like Her Majesty, she is someone who has been part of the fabric of the way of life in Britain for many years.”