The 74-year-old actress admitted she was surprised to receive the invitation in the first place. “She invited me for tea…I thought it was going to be in a room with 200 other people, which it often is. I’ve met her once before and it was in a room with 200 other people,”Helen explained during her SAG-AFTRA event “Helen Mirren and Hawk Koch Discuss The Magic of Movies” on Friday.
“So I said, ‘Oh well I can manage that.’ So it was at the horsey place and the message came to me that the Queen would like to invite you to tea, she knows you’re here.”
Since no one turns down an invitation from the Queen, Helen accepted—and quickly realized she was in for a different kind of evening. “So I walk in, and there’s like eight people sitting around a table. Prince Philip, the Queen, a Sheik of somewhere or other and a couple of horsey people,” the actress hilariously explained. “I know absolutely nothing about horses, at all, and the Queen knows everything about horses.”
Helen continued to say that she was desperately trying to make any sort of polite conversation—but her words just kept “coming out like gobbledygook.”
Just when the actress thought the occasion couldn’t get more awkward, she was served her tea. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” actress explained that she realized the milk was on the other side of Prince Philip.
“I want some milk in my tea, but my brain goes completely dead and I cannot remember how to address Prince Philip,” Helen said. “I mean, is it sir? Is it your majesty? Is it your highness? Is it rude to ask him to pass the milk? Or should I just ask for a lackey?”
Ultimately, Dame Helen gave up. “I finished up not having any milk. I just couldn’t sort it out.”
Despite the actress’ awkward moment, she thoroughly enjoyed her time with the royals. “It’s a lesson in embarrassment, but they were lovely, they were utterly gracious,” she said.
This wasn’t the first interaction the award-winning actress has had with royalty. She had met the Queen on several prior occasions, and of course won her best-actress Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth in the 2006 movie “The Queen.”