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Helen Mirren has revealed the secret letter she wrote to Queen Elizabeth when the actress was playing Her Majesty in the 2006 biopic The Queen.

The Hollywood legend reflected on crafting the letter in an interview with the Radio Times, saying she felt compelled to write after realising the intensity of the Queen’s role firsthand.

“I realised we were investigating a profoundly painful part of her life, so I wrote to her,” she 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.”

The 76-year-old actress won an Oscar and a Bafta for her portrayal in the film, which is set during the time Princess Diana tragically died.

While she never received a response to her letter from the Queen, Mirren said she did receive a letter from the Queen’s secretary.

Upon opening the response she confessed, “I was very relieved subsequently that I had written that letter.”

Earlier this year, the actress told The Hollywood Reporter that she believes the Queen has watched the biopic.

“At the time, it had never been done before, playing the queen. It was quite nerve-racking because I didn’t know – no one knew – how the public would receive it, let alone the establishment in Britain,” Mirren reflected.

“But I got the sense that it had been seen and that it had been appreciated. I’ve never heard directly, and I never will,” she added.

Image credits: Getty Images

This article first appeared on OverSixty.

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