Athlete Denise Lewis was surprised at how ''tiny'' Britain's Queen Elizabeth was when she met her.

The 39-year-old sportswoman was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the year 2000, and she admits she was very ''proud'' to have received it and thought of the monarch as a ''very fine lady''.

She said: ''The day I received my OBE was a very proud day, my mum and my gran came to Buckingham Palace with me. We have a fantastic Monarchy, and it's always an honour to meet the queen.

''She's so tiny! I remember she extended her tiny gloved hand to me and I thought, 'You're a very fine lady.' ''

However, the retired heptathlete is unsure if she would be made a Dame in the future.

She said: ''I don't think it's down to me to make that decision. I don't even think it's down to the Queen!''

An OBE is the most junior of the British orders of chivalry, with over 100,000 members worldwide.