Helen Mirren's “embarrassment” during tea with the Queen is so relatable

Jessica Rapana
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

We've all been there. You're at a party, working the room and charming the pants off someone you've just met, when it hits you: you've forgotten their name.

It happens to the best of us, and apparently, even celebrities aren't immune, as Dame Helen Mirren found out the hard way while having tea with the Queen.

No one was more surprised than Mirren to get the call up in the first place. “I thought it was going to be in a room with 200 people, which it often is,” the 74-year-old actress explained during her Helen Mirren and Hawk Koch Discuss The Magic of Movies event, as per PEOPLE.

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“I’ve met her once before and it was in a room with 200 other people. So I said, ‘Oh well I can imagine that.’ So it was at the horse place and the message came to me that the Queen would like to invite you to tea, she knows you’re here.”

However, much to Mirren’s surprise, this particular occasion happened to be a more intimate affair. “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.”

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While Mirren was “desperately trying to make polite conversation”, it was “just coming out like gobbledygook”. But it was when she was given a cup of tea – and wanted some milk – that things got a tad awkward.

With the milk on the other side of Philip, Mirren recalled how her brain went “completely dead” when she could not remember how to address the duke: “I mean, is it sir? Is it your majesty? Is it your highness?” Mirren said. “Is it rude to ask him to pass the milk? Or should I just ask for a lackey?”

Photo credit: CBS + Youtube

In the end, Mirren was so thrown by the situation that she decided to go without the milk altogether. “I finished up not having any milk. I just couldn’t sort it out.” She added: “It’s a lesson in embarrassment,” Mirren added, though insisting she still had a great time.

For future reference, Helen, your first address should be “Your Royal Highness”, followed by “Sir”.

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