London

Barbara Windsor given freedom of the City of London

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Media captionBarbara Windsor: "I feel so important today"

Actress Barbara Windsor has said she is finally "posh" after being given the freedom of the City of London.

The 72-year-old was given the honour for her 60 years in showbusiness.

Describing herself as a "true, true Londoner" she said: "I love London with a passion and I'm just so honoured. I'd say 'look Mum, at last I'm posh'."

There are no privileges to becoming a freeman but it is given to celebrate a significant achievement or major contribution to London life.

Windsor has made many film, stage and television appearances but she is best known for the Carry On films and playing Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. She is due to leave the programme after 16 years.

She was also awarded an MBE in 2000, been named the BBC Television Personality of the Year and received best actress and lifetime achievement awards.

At the ceremony Windsor said: "I can't believe it. I thought you had to be very posh.

"I'm in a job I absolutely love and I feel so important today. I just wish my mother was here because she always wanted me to be posh. I'd say 'look Mum, at last I'm posh'."

She said she also hoped that the city would not be ruined by new developments.

"I come from the city which is magnificent and then you see these horrific buildings that didn't take much thought to do - I agree with Prince Charles on that, absolutely. Please keep our identity, it's so important."

Driving sheep

Deputy Robin Sherlock, Chief Commoner of the City of London Corporation, said: "Whether making us laugh in the Carry On films or playing tense scenes in EastEnders, Barbara has won her way into our hearts and is one of this country's best loved actresses."

The Freedom of the City of London is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.

Today, people are nominated, or apply for, the freedom because it offers them a link to the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions.

However, many of the so-called traditional privileges associated with the freedom, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, being hanged with a silken rope, or being drunk and disorderly in the City of London without fear of arrest, no longer exist.

Windsor added: "I've heard I can get rat-arsed and I won't get nicked. The tragedy is I don't drink any more, but there we go."

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