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Emily Watson hails 'amazing' OBE


Emily Watson plays the Queen Mother in A Royal Night Out

Emily Watson plays the Queen Mother in A Royal Night Out

Emily Watson plays the Queen Mother in A Royal Night Out

Hollywood star Emily Watson has described receiving an OBE as "absolutely amazing" - on the day her film about the Queen's night with VE Day revellers is released.

The twice-Oscar nominated actress was left overwhelmed by the experience of being awarded the honour by the Prince of Wales during a Buckingham Palace investiture.

The ceremony was staged by chance as A Royal Night Out - about Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret's evening with the crowds on VE Day in 1945 - went on general release.

Speaking about receiving the OBE for services to drama following more than 20 years on stage, screen and television, she said it was: "Absolutely amazing, thrilling - I feel a little bit overwhelmed, actually."

The 48-year-old Londoner became a name to watch following success in her first major film role, Breaking The Waves, which saw her nominated for the best actress Oscar.

Asked if she knew her performance would win her plaudits, she replied: "I had no idea, that was the first film I'd ever made, I had no idea what was going on really. I just sort of went for it and did the best I could."

She played down her screen talent, saying: "Once you've done it once, they keep asking you back. I feel very lucky, very fortunate."

Watson's career has taken in Hollywood success - she got her second best-actress Oscar nod for Hilary And Jackie in which she played cellist Jacqueline du Pre and picked up the instrument herself to make the portrayal even more convincing.

She has appeared in films as diverse as Angela's Ashes, Gosford Park and War Horse and her performance in ITV's Appropriate Adult, about Fred West, won her a TV Bafta.

Asked to pick a favourite film she's appeared in, she replied: "It's a little bit like naming your favourite child but there are a few highlights, Breaking The Waves, Punch-Drunk Love, Gosford Park - there's been some special moments."

Watson said about her new movie: "It's out today by the most amazing coincidence, they planned the film release to be co-ordinated with VE Day celebrations (this month)."

She said: "We filmed at Chatsworth and Belvoir Castle (for) the interior of the Palace." Looking around the ornate furnishings of the Palace's ballroom, where investitures are held, she added: "They did a really good job, actually."

The actress plays Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, opposite Rupert Everett as King George VI with Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, and Bel Powley as Princess Margaret.

She said she watched old footage of the Queen Mother but there was not much archive material of her speaking.

Also recognised during the investiture ceremony was Lord Young, who served under Margaret Thatcher as employment secretary and trade and industry secretary.

The businessman has remained an influential figure in the world of commerce for more than 40 years and during the past five years was David Cameron's enterprise adviser.

Lord Young was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour whose other recipients include Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir David Attenborough and Sir John Major.

The peer, who did not receive a salary during his time working for Mrs Thatcher or Mr Cameron, said after the ceremony: "I've spent probably a third of my working life always doing voluntary and other things because I enjoy it. I spent the whole of the 80s and the last five years in Government as a volunteer."

He added that he was continuing the work he had begun while advising Mr Cameron: "I'm carrying on the work I started to give everyone in school an enterprise passport, to record all the extra things they can do, and we're giving every teacher an enterprise adviser to motivate young people."

Lord Young went on to say: "One of the things I did in the last five years was introduce start up loans which enables you to start up a business with £5,000 and a mentor, and nearly 30,000 people have started a business in the last two years."

The peer who served on the council of the Prince's Trust, where he had responsibilities for fundraising and the business programme, joked that Charles told him "It's about time".