‘Quite nerve racking’: Helen Mirren’s conscience-clearing letter to the Queen

Jul 23, 2022
Helen Mirren said she felt compelled to reach out the Queen when playing her most beloved role. Source: Getty

In 2006, Dame Helen Mirren delivered one of the best performances of her career in a stunning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen, but the star has revealed she felt the need to warn the Monarch of “profound pain” before participating in the film.

Speaking with Radio Times, the 76-year-old said she felt compelled to reach out as the movie took a dive into the trials and tribulations of the British Royal family, specifically the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997.

“I realised we were investigating a profoundly painful part of her life, so I wrote to her,” Mirren said. “How do you write to your queen? Was it Madam, or Your Highness, or Your Majesty?

“I said, ‘We are doing this film. We are investigating a very difficult time in your life. I hope it’s not too awful for you.’

“I can’t remember how I put it. I just said that in my research I found myself with a growing respect for her, and I just wanted to say that.

“She didn’t write back, of course, but her secretary did. You know, ‘Yours sincerely, da di da di da,’ on behalf of the Queen.”

Britain’s national treasure said despite not hearing from the Queen directly, she felt “very relieved” after reaching out.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Mirren said she was “quite nervous” to portray the Queen, unsure of how it would be received by both the public and the Monarchy.

Mirren recently donned a royal costume once again for her theatrical performance at Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in May 2022.

Taking to the stage, the Oscar-winning actress was transformed into Queen Elizabeth I, as viewers were taken through A Gallop through Time of the first Elizabethan era.

For her sensational performance, Mirren reenacted Queen Elizabeth I’s historic speech to the troops at Tilbury where she declared: ” I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.”

The A-lister dedicated her performance to the Queen’s “unswerving” leadership throughout her 70 years of reign and offered the nation’s “most loving thanks”.

“For all these years you have carried our nation. You have been at its heart, its drumbeat. You have given us purpose and when situations have been challenging, your hope, guidance and leadership have been unswerving,” she said.

Addressing Her Majesty, Mirren said she spoke on behalf of “a grateful nation and commonwealth” to voice their “loyalty”, “appreciation”, and admiration for the way she has carried out affairs of the state “with such dexterity and poise”.

The 76-year-old actress looked majestic almost but unrecognisable for the performance as she wore a dramatic gold gown, with pale make-up and a copper-coloured, tightly permed wig.

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