Before Helen Mirren played Queen Elizabeth II, she wrote to the monarch.

In 2006, Helen Mirren (76) slipped into the role of monarch Queen Elizabeth II (96) for the historical film “The Queen”. She received a Golden Globe and an Oscar for best actress for her performance. Even before accepting the role, Mirren wrote a letter to the Queen. The actress reveals this in an interview with the British program magazine “Radio Times”.

In preparing for the role, she realized that the film would illuminate a “deeply painful phase” in the Queen’s life. The film is set in August 1997. It deals with the death of Princess Diana (1961-1997) and the Queen’s initial public reticence, which was heavily criticized by the public. “So I wrote to her,” explains Mirren in an interview.

“I hope it’s not too horrible for you.”

At first she wondered what salutation she should use for the letter, the actress recalls: “How do you write to your queen? Is it ‘madam’ or ‘your highness’ or ‘your majesty’?” In the letter she informed the Queen about the film. “We shed light on a really difficult time in your life,” she wrote. “I hope it’s not too horrible for you.”

More than 15 years later, Mirren could no longer remember the exact wording. “I just wrote that through my research I’ve developed a growing respect for her and I just wanted to tell her that.” Of course, Queen Elizabeth II did not answer her, but her secretariat did. “You know, ‘Sincerely, da di da di da’ on behalf of the Queen,” Mirren jokes of the response. Looking back, the actress was “very relieved” that she wrote the letter, she concludes.