En 1992 el gobierno británico le ofreció a Doris Lessing el título de "Dama" del Imperio. Ella rechazó el honor en esta carta dirigida a Alex Allan, Secretario Privado del Primer Ministro John Major:
24th November, 1992Dear Alex Allan,
I am sorry I did not reply earlier, but I was in the States.
Thank you for offering me this honour: I am very pleased. But for some time now I have been wondering, "But where is this British Empire?" Surely, there isn't one. And now I see that I am not the only one saying the same.
There is something ruritannical about honours given in the name of a non-existent Empire.
And there is another thing. When young I did my best to undo that bit of the British Empire I found myself in: that is, old Southern Rhodesia.
And surely there is something unlikeable about a person, when old, accepting honours from a institution she attacked when young?
And yet...how pleasant to be a dame! I would adore it. Dame of what?
Dame of Britain? Dame of the British Islands? Dame of the British Commonwealth? Dame of ....? Never mind.
Please forgive my churlishness. I am sorry, I really am.