EastEnders veteran June Brown collected her MBE at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, describing it as a ‘quite remarkable’ experience.

June, who has played Dot Cotton/Branning on and off in the BBC1 soap since 1985, said her character would herself have relished the ceremony, saying: “She would have been absolutely delighted.

“She’s a great royalist and a fairly good Christian. She wavers off but so do we all.”

June is also president of the Michael Elliott Trust, which helps give children with special needs the chance to care for abandoned donkeys and the Queen awarded June the honour for her services both to drama and to charity.

June, 81, said: “Actors don’t retire, not unless they’ve lost their faculties.”

The actress, who has met the Queen on previous occasions, said of their meeting on Tuesday: “I’m afraid I did most of the talking.”

A grandmother to five, she joined EastEnders aged 58 after Leslie Grantham, who played the dastardly Den Watts, recommended her for the part.

June stayed with the soap from 1985 to 1993, rejoining in 1997, and said the role ‘changed her life’.