8 reasons Prue Leith is a national treasure, as she’s named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list

The 81-year-old Bake Off star is set to become a Dame.

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London

Prue Leith is set to become a Dame having been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, and we couldn’t be happier for our favourite TV foodie.

Upgrading her CBE title, the Bake Off judge’s latest honour cements her status as a true national treasure. Here are the reasons we just love her.

1. She’s warm and kind

The perfect antidote to po-faced Paul Hollywood with his terrifying takedowns that can leave Bake Off contestants in tears, Leith, 81, is always kind and encouraging, even when she’s faced with a disastrous creme anglais or soggy souffle.

2. She’s funny and relatable

As sweet as she is, Leith comes out with some hilarious one-liners on Bake Off, and her signature assessment that a second-rate bake is “not worth the calories” is so relatable.

3. She’s a culinary queen

Born in South Africa, Leith moved to England in 1960 to begin her training at the prestigious Cordon Bleu Cookery School. With six decades of industry experience under her belt – as a caterer, restaurateur, food journalist, cookbook author and broadcaster – she is second to none when it comes to culinary expertise.

4. She’s been open about adoption

Leith married author Rayne Kruger in 1974 (they were married until he died in 2002). The couple had a son, Danny, and adopted a daughter, Li-Da, from Cambodia. Now in her 40s, Li-Da is a filmmaker and has made two documentaries, in which Leith has appeared, about returning to Phnom Penh in search of her roots.

In 2020’s Prue Leith: Journey With my Daughter, Leith – who married retired designer John Playfair in 2016 – admitted she felt torn at the prospect of her adoptive daughter making contact with her birth mother, saying: “I’ve had Li-Da for 45 years. Am I prepared for her to focus on the Cambodian side of her family, and see much less of her?”

5. She’s a sustainability champion

One of Leith’s most recent projects sees her using her culinary skills to tackle the issue of food waste – it’s estimated that we throw away 4.5 tonnes of food and drink each year in the UK. Encouraging viewers to make the most of what they’ve got in their cupboards, in TV series Cook Clever Waste Less she shares recipes, tips and tricks to help make sure food ends up in our tummies, not the bin.

6. How she handled that tweet

When Leith accidentally posted on Twitter the winner of the 2017 Great British Bake Off final before it had aired, she reacted in a way that, let’s face it, most of us would.

“I’m in too much of a state to talk about it,” she told PA Media. “I’m in Bhutan. The time difference is massive. I thought that they got it six hours ago. I’m in too much of a state to talk about it. I f****d up.”

She later tweeted a very sweet apology: “I am so sorry to the fans of the show for my mistake this morning. I am in a different time zone and mortified by my error #GBBO.”

7. Her fabulous fashion sense

Not only does she light up our TV screens with her personality, Leith’s colourful clothes are a joy to behold. A typical outfit might involve a stripey top, bright blazer and skinny jeans topped with a statement necklace and dangly earrings.

Speaking about her love of colour last year, she told PA Media: “I think it’s my South African origins. I grew up with gardens full of wonderfully bright orange and red flowers, with the blue jacaranda trees and bougainvillea scrambling over everything.”

8. She’s got specs appeal

Prue Leith with the award for Best Food Programme Sponsored by SMEG for ‘The Great British Bake Off’ during the 2018 TRIC Awards

As well as bold jewellery, Leith has a seemingly endless supply of brightly coloured glasses. Often switching up hues but sticking to her signature square frames, she’s an eyewear inspiration.

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