Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 17:37 UK

Bennett is UK's 'last monarchist'

Alan Bennett speaking at the Hay Festival
Mr Bennett turned down a Knighthood in 1996

Playwright Alan Bennett has explained his decision to turn down a knighthood, despite describing himself as the last monarchist in the country.

Speaking at the the Hay Festival of Literature, in mid Wales, he said the title "just wouldn't suit me".

But he said anything replacing the monarchy would only be worse.

The raconteur, author and comedian, 74, then went on to praise the Prince of Wales, describing him as a man who "really works his ass off".

"I often think of myself as the last person who is a monarchist really, simply because I simply can't imagine if we had anything in its place it would be anything but worse," he said.

Expanding on his opinion of Charles, he added: "I've met Prince Charles two or three times and on each occasion the same thing has struck me, namely that he really works his ass off.

"He's much more conscientious and attentive to people than he is ever given credit for and so, as I say, I have a great deal of time for him."

Explaining his reason for turning down a knighthood he explained: "I felt that in my case, it just wouldn't suit me, that's all. It would be like wearing a suit every day of your life."

Bennett was presented with the Listening Books Award for spoken word at the Hay Festival on Saturday night by James Naughtie.

The award from the charity came with a first edition of Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

It is awarded to someone who has used his or her voice in a way that has made a special impact. Previous winners include Sandy Toksvig and Melvyn Bragg.

Bennett had been reading from his diaries and telling anecdotes in a second sell-out event at the festival.

He said he had finished a play about the friendship between poet WH Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, with rehearsals due to start at the National Theatre in September.

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