TV personality Paul O’Grady collected his MBE on Thursday wearing top hat and tails and joked: ‘It’s a long way from Lily Savage.’

Paul became a household name wearing drag as his alter ego – but said he was not tempted to don the blonde beehive, dress and high heels to meet Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

Paul, who hosts his teatime chat show on Channel 4, said he was ‘delighted’ to receive the MBE, but had initially thought the letter was a joke from one of his friends.

He said: “They rang me up and said ‘Are you coming or not?’ They said I had been a hugely popular choice so that was nice.”

Paul, who has suffered two heart attacks in recent years, added that he’s happy to often be described as a national treasure.

He joked: “If you’d said 25 years ago I’d be getting an MBE I would have killed myself laughing.

“Now I’m part of the establishment – The Archers, The Daily Mail. I’ll have to start moaning and writing letters signed ‘Disgusted of Kent’.”

O’Grady was accompanied by his partner Andre Portasio, daughter Sharyn Mousley and sister Sheila Rudd. After the ceremony, the group headed to The Ritz to celebrate.