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Baroness Floella Benjamin shares poignant detail about late Queen's final days

The former TV presenter received the BAFTA Fellowship

Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
13 May 2024
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Baroness Floella Benjamin has shared a glimpse inside the late Queen Elizabeth II's final days before her death in September 2022.

After scooping the Bafta Fellowship prize at the BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday evening, the veteran TV presenter explained during the winners' press conference how the late monarch had been reading her autobiography just two days before she passed away in Balmoral.

floella giving speech after awards ceremony© Getty Images
Floella gave a poignant speech

"The late Queen, two days before she died, she had my autobiography on her desk," the 74-year-old revealed.

"And in the autobiography, there's a story of when she and I met, when I was the Chancellor of the University of Exeter, the first black woman Chancellor in this country. And I spoke about forgiveness to her and she was so open with me and I thought I'd be open with her about my life.

Exeter University chancellor and former television presenter Floella Benjamin met with the late Queen in 2012© Getty Images
Exeter University chancellor and former television presenter Floella Benjamin met with the late Queen in 2012

"And I said, 'You know ma'am, when I was a little girl in Trinidad, I used to stand in the playground and say, “God Save The Queen”, I was told the Queen loved me and Britain loved me, I was part of that motherland. But when I came here, it was not like that and so many people did horrible things to me and my family."

She continued: "They sent the police to arrest us when we went to live in Beckenham in Kent. That's why I'm called Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham, I've claimed Beckenham for my mum and dad.

"And I said to her, 'I've forgiven all the people who were horrible to me because forgiveness frees the soul,' and two days before she died, she was reading my autobiography, which has that story in it."

Anita Rani and Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin at the 2024 BAFTA Television Awards © Getty Images
Anita Rani and Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin at the 2024 BAFTA Television Awards

Floella finished by adding: "Apparently the private secretary Edward Young told me the Queen said to him, 'I want to appoint Floella Benjamin into the Order of Merit.' Only 24 living people are in that order and she wanted me to be one of those. To give all little ten-year-olds hope, to show them anything is possible. That's why I feel good holding this, that I'm giving people watching out their hope, telling them anything is possible. Don't ever be afraid to speak out." Take a look in the video below... 

WATCH: Baroness Floella Benjamin shares touching detail about late Queen Elizabeth II

The former children's TV presenter, known for her work on Play School and Play Away, was recognised for her "tireless support of children and young people [and] her unwavering championing of diversity".

Baroness Floella Benjamin posing with her Fellowship Award in the Winners Room © Getty Images
Baroness Floella Benjamin posing with her Fellowship Award in the Winners Room

Floella was given an OBE in 2001 and was chosen by the late Queen to receive the Order of Merit, one of the Queen's last wishes. She received the Order at St James's Palace from King Charles in November 2022.

During the awards ceremony, Floella received a special message from the Prince of Wales in a pre-recorded video. In recognition of her achievements, Prince William told the audience: "In a career spanning more than five decades, she has touched the lives of millions. She has graced our screens as a much-loved presenter of children’s television, most notably Playschool and Play Away.

Prince William special TV BAFTAs 2024 video appearance© BBC
Prince William made a special TV BAFTAs 2024 appearance via video link

"She has also contributed greatly to BAFTA itself – she chaired the BAFTA Television Committee from 1997 to 2000 and established the BAFTA Children’s Awards in 1995."

He added: "Beyond the screen arts, Baroness Benjamin has steadfastly advocated for children’s education and welfare, supported a great number of charitable organisations, tirelessly campaigned for social justice - and as a member of the Windrush Generation - she has given voice to those who faced discrimination upon arrival in the UK."

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