Helen Mirren Was Mortified When She Forgot Royal Etiquette During Tea with the Queen

At an event on Friday, actress Helen Mirren shared a story about a "lesson in embarrassment" during a tea party with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

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Helen Mirren and Queen Elizabeth have history. Some of that history is great—the 74-year-old actress won an Academy Award for her portrayal of the monarch in 2006's The Queen and she's attended several receptions at Buckingham Palace with the royal. But, according to Mirren, not all of their encounters have gone perfectly.

On Friday, the actress shared a story about an awkward moment she shared during tea with Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip. And the tea party was awkward in so many ways.

"She invited me for tea," Mirren explained during her "Helen Mirren and Hawk Koch Discuss The Magic of Movies" event, according to People. "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. 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."

"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. I know absolutely nothing about horses, at all, and the Queen knows everything about horses," she explained, adding that she was, "desperately trying to make polite conversation and it’s just coming out like gobbledygook."

"Then I got a cup of tea and the Queen, in particular, was having a very intense conversation about what’s in the sandwiches with Prince Philip, very important. ‘What is this? What’s in here?' The milk is on the other side of Prince Philip and I want some milk in my tea, but my brain goes completely dead and I cannot remember how to address Prince Philip.

"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?"

So what did Mirren end up doing? Not having milk at all. "I finished up not having any milk. I just couldn’t sort it out," she said. "It’s a lesson in embarrassment, but they were lovely, they were utterly gracious."

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Weekend Editor at Cosmopolitan

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with over 10 years of professional experience covering entertainment of all genres, from new movie and TV releases to nostalgia, and celebrity news. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.