Mary Beard has said she is happy to have been made a dame, even though she has not always agreed with what the honours system stands for.
“Had somebody said to me at 23 that I would accept a damehood of the British Empire, I would have said, ‘Sorry, sunshine, that’s not what my politics is all about,'” she said on Friday.
Now 63, though, the historian said she was “older and wiser”.
She told reporters she found the title “quaint” and “charming”, if “odd”.
She said honours were no longer associated with the politics of the empire – because there is no empire – adding: “Dames cart around the stage, don’t they?”
Speaking after collecting her damehood from Prince William at Buckingham Palace, Dame Mary also revealed she had offered to teach his three children Latin.
“I hope he was listening,” the Cambridge University classics professor said. “Of course he was very polite and said, ‘I’ll have to get you to teach them’, and I said, ‘Anything!’
“It’s important to learn where we’ve been and where we’ve come from, and for people to have access to some of the most extraordinary and influential literature in world culture.
“That kind of direct connection with something so influential written so long ago is, I think, terribly important.”
She was made a dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to classical scholarship, having previously been made an OBE in 2013.