Burntisland born children’s author and illustrator Aileen Paterson was made an MBE at Buckingham Palace on November 17.
The royal investiture was bestowed on the creator of the Maisie in Morningside books by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.
“He is handsome, I must say,” Aileen laughed. “I am an 81-year-old woman but I did think ‘wow’!”
The creator of the much-loved storybooks exudes enthusiasm for life and a twinkle in her eye that comes from doing a job she has adored.
“It was an astounding experience and most of the people that were there were people who had done a lot of charity. I have just had a fantastic job writing Maisie books and other things! They were much more deserving.”
While teaching at Muirhouse Primary School in Edinburgh, Aileen was encouraged to write by a fellow teacher.
“He was the chap that I shared lifts with, he said one day I want to become a publisher and he used to nag me in the staff room. I told him to wait until the summer holidays because I still had three children at primary school,” explained Aileen. “I liked cats - as does my brother Harry Henderson - so I thought, why not write about a cat and off I went. That’s how it all got started...I didn’t tell William all that though.”
Shocked to receive the MBE in May, Aileen said: “The actual getting of the MBE was terrifying because you have to curtsy and shake the Royal hand. As we all shuffled forward, even the men were saying I hope I don’t make a fool of myself.
“The staff at Buckingham Palace were very witty and good fun. I couldn’t have had a nicer thing happen.”
Aileen gave up teaching to concentrate on the Maisie series and has never looked back. “She is really loved Maisie. It’s been a lovely job. Even adults used to come to the book festival for Maisie.
“I did Higher Art at Kirkcaldy High which was lovely because my favourite thing is drawing.”
Aileen, who grew up in Kirkcaldy, was joined by brother Harry and her family for a celebratory dinner in the Goring Hotel - famed as the location where Kate Middleton spent her last night as a single woman - after the ceremony.
“We had champagne and something to eat and generally had a really rocking good time. I’ve had a really good life doing the Maisie books. I couldn’t have wished for better.”