Writer Hunter Davies said he was looking forward to visiting the palace to pick up his OBE, having posed as a chauffeur to take his brother-in-law there when he was honoured 20 years ago.

The journalist, who wrote the only authorised biography of the Beatles in 1968, said he thought he was getting a tax demand when the letter arrived .

He said: "I have been to the palace once before.

"M y brother-in-law Roger P riestley got an OBE, he was a senior civil servant but had MS and had trouble getting around so he was allowed a driver and so I dressed up as a chauffeur and drove him in, then went and sat in a little hut with all the famous people's drivers."

Davies, who is married to novelist Margaret Forster, said his wife was unimpressed with the honour which was given for "services to literature".

He said: "I told my wife and she said 'You're not going to accept it'. W ell I thought it was worth 1,000 words. I can get two columns out of this.

"She said that if it had been a knighthood she would have divorced me".

The 78-year-old Scottish-born writer, who grew up in Carlisle, is the author of more than 70 books including novels, travel writing and The Glory Game which is based on a season he spent behind the scenes at Tottenham Hotspur.

He said he was "honoured" by the award, adding : "I'm the last person my wife and family associate with literature, I'm just a hack that got lucky. She probably won't come with me but maybe the children or grandchildren will come, it will amuse them".

Last year, Davies donated a series of Beatles manuscripts, including John Lennon's h andwritten lyrics to Strawberry Fields Forever, to the British Library.

The treasure trove of memorabilia also included the l yrics to songs such as She Said She Said and In My Life.

He said: "T hey said it was worth £1 million, that is what I would have got if I'd taken it to Sotheby's, so it's cost them that much, but I would have thought for £1million I'd have woken up as the Duke of Cumberland".