The Queen Turned Down Oldie of the Year Award at 95

Queen Elizabeth II refused to accept the Oldie of the year award at the age of 95. The Oldie of the Year awards are presented annually to deserving seniors. The 2021 annual award ceremony was held at The Savoy hotel in London on October 19. 

According to The Oldie, the Queen at 95 does not see her meeting the criteria to receive the award and asked the magazine to look for a “worthy recipient.” 

The Queen’s refusal has left everyone wondering the possible reason for not accepting such a prestigious title. If you don’t know, the Oldie of the Year award is a one-of-a-kind award presented by The Oldie, a leading British magazine, to notable elderly achievers. In 2020, the award was presented to Petula Clark, a well-known British singer. Amidst the pandemic, the ceremony took place virtually, but it did not have any impact on its royal celebration. The magazine tried its level best to make the ceremony a hit like always. 

A little background to The Oldie is what you need to know before going into the details. Founded in 1992 by Richard Ingrams, the magazine is famous for publishing humorous and light-hearted content for “oldies.” With a goal to contrast with youth culture, The Oldie is considered to be a heaven for old people. 

The Oldie has been organizing the Oldie of the Year(TOOTY) awards for the past 29 years, with past winners including renowned personalities such as the painter David Hockney, actor Lionel Blair, and the late actress Dame Olivia de Havilland. To be considered for this lifetime achievement award, being a senior contributor to public life is not sufficient. As per Richard Ingrams, the founder of The Oldie, you need to have “snap in your celery,” too. 

You would be surprised to know that the Queen’s own mother and late husband have previously been the recipient of this award. 

Prince Phillip, the Queen’s husband who recently died in April of this year, was honoured with the Oldie of the Year award in 2011. When Prince Philip received the award back in 2011, he showed his gratitude by responding: “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 Prince, who later died at the age of 99, was no doubt delighted to be honoured with such a glorious title. 

It is strange to see the Queen decline the title as everyone sees her be the best fit for this award. The Queen is not only Britain’s longest-reigning monarch (surpassing the record of 63 years and 216 days on the throne) but also quite snappy at 95. Despite her age, the Queen has not put an end to her public life and duties. She is still seen making public appearances with full enthusiasm and her never-dying elegance. 

Back in 2015, when the Queen was acknowledged as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, she said,

“Inevitably, a long life can pass many milestones; my own is no exception.”

But when it comes to being called an “oldie,” the Queen is not yet ready to accept that she is old enough for such a title. The Queen is still young at heart, and it became all the more apparent when Tom Laing-Baker, the Queen’s assistant private secretary, revealed the reason for declining the award in a “lovely letter,” as The Oldie termed it. 

Regal as always, the Queen politely turned down the award. Gyles Brandreth, the host of the 2021 Oldie of the Year awards, called it “the most polite non-acceptance in history.” He also said, “Perhaps in the future we will sound out Her Majesty once more.” 

Tom Laing-Baker apologized to the magazine regarding the same. In reply to the award’s proposal letter dated August 21, he 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.” The reply could not have been more impressive, and the magazine honoured the Queen’s decision. The magazine was able to find another “worthy recipient” of the award: the French-American dancer-turned-actress and the double Academy award winner Leslie Caron. At the age of 90, Leslie Caron is five years juniour to the Queen. Caron is known for acting in popular Hollywood movies like An American in Paris (1951), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and Father Goose (1964). She is not only a graceful dancer but a fabulous actress, and an opera singer too. Her friends praise Caron for her beauty and her undying energy. Even at the age of 90, Caron does not miss her exercise for a single day. As a trained dancer, she believes in keeping oneself fit irrespective of one’s age. The ageless beauty is too well-maintained for her age.The actress has received many awards throughout her career. Interestingly, she is one of the 19 actresses to be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for enacting pregnancy or labour in The L-Shaped Room (1962). The 90-year old actress is an inspiration for many and is certainly a deserving recipient of the Oldie of the Year award.As far as the award ceremony is concerned, it was a grand celebration with the Duchess of Cornwall as the presenter of the award to the winners. Besides Leslie Caron, Sir Geoff Hurst, a former legendary footballer, and cook Dame Delia Smith were honoured with the 2021 Oldie of the Year title.  Although the Queen couldn’t be a part of the ceremony this year, The Oldie covered the Queen’s adorable yet cheeky reply on its cover page. Let’s see if Gyles Brandreth’s wish to present Her Majesty with the title in the future comes true or not, but the Queen has undoubtedly left everyone with a positive outlook towards life with her reply.