The Queen was the only person with the power to turn A-list stars into chattering wrecks just by being in the same room

Not much can faze the Hollywood royalty except coming face to face with reality.

The Queen turned some of the biggest A-listers into chattering wrecks simply by showing up in the same room.

Stares reveals how the Queen turned them into chattering wrecks


Stares reveals how the Queen turned them into chattering wrecksPhoto credit: Getty
Sir Paul McCartney is made a Companion of Honor at the 2018 Palace ceremony


Sir Paul McCartney is made a Companion of Honor at the 2018 Palace ceremonyCredit: PA:Press Association

In their own words, these big names reminisce about their encounters with the superstar who dwarfed them all.


Buckingham Palace

“And what are you doing?” She said. That’s where I made my first mistake. Instead of saying, like any normal person, “Your Majesty, I’m an actress who records audio books,” I took a deep breath and replied, “Your Majesty, I’m the best story reader in the whole world!”

Her Majesty gave me a weary look, rolled her eyes skywards, sighed and turned to my Scottish friend.

“And what are you doing?” “Your Majesty, I am an academic trying to help dyslexic children read. We have found that having the letters on the page printed in different colors helps children absorb the information better.”

I couldn’t help but get involved. “How fascinating!” I said. “Gosh, I didn’t know that.” Her Majesty turned back to me and said sharply, “Shut up!” The “T” of “quiet” was particularly crisp.

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Terry Wogan


Terry Wogan got some advice on moderation at a dinner with the Queen


Terry Wogan got some advice on moderation at a dinner with the QueenPhoto credit: Getty

I looked at her plate and she had just taken a sprouts, some carrot and a small piece of meat.

The servant poured the sauce over it and I said, “Ma’am, you’re not eating.” She said, “Then not like you.”


Buckingham Palace, 2011

At a dinner with the Obamas, I sat right next to the Queen of England. Out of nowhere, I noticed that gloved hand was putting down a cup of clear liquid [in front of her].

I looked at it and said, “What is Her Majesty drinking tonight?” and she said, “Ooh, martini.”


Windsor Castle, 2014

IT was at a British Film Institute meeting. We suddenly found ourselves, 200 people, in a big queue. I thought we might go in for something to eat. I hadn’t read the agenda. I looked around the corner and there was the Queen and Prince Philip and I said, ‘Oh! Oh no! I do not know what to do!”

And a gentleman in epaulettes said: ‘Don’t overdo it, a little bow and you say, Your Majesty, and Your Royal Highness, and go. Do it as soon as you can and go.” “All right, okay.” And I managed to remember what to say, kind of sticky and stumbling a bit.


Buckingham Palace, 1965, received his MBE with the rest of the Beatles

SHE said to me, “Have you been working hard lately?” And I couldn’t imagine what we were doing, so I said, “No, we were on vacation,” even though we were actually recording.


Buckingham Palace receiving their CBE, 2012

FIRST she has the most incredible skin, I mean incredible – and beautiful, beautiful, bouncy hair. You’re told what to do, and you step forward and curtsey or bow, hold out your hand for her to shake, and then she gives you that suggested back nudge like, “You nailed it.”

OK, I wasn’t expecting that. And then she said, “Congratulations on all your accomplishments. You’re a mother, aren’t you?’ And she said, ‘Well, that’s the only job.’ And I thought good lady, good lady. I was really, really touched that she said that.


Windsor Castle, 2013

ALL I was worried about was the fact that someone had said, “You have to call her Her Majesty first, and then Ma’am to rhyme with Pam,” and I was so worried I called her Pam would .

Not me. I asked her what the last film she had seen was and she said ‘oh I saw something in Leicester Square a long time ago’ and I was like ‘well don’t you have Sky Plus?’ and she said: “Well you have Sky Plus but you’re so busy all the time.”


artistic reception

To curtsy or not, that was Dawn French's dilemma as the Queen approached


To curtsy or not, that was Dawn French’s dilemma as the Queen approachedCredit: PA:Press Association

She is very small and moves like she is on roller skates. She just slides up as if no real walking is taking place. As far as we know, she might be sitting on casters!

But when she comes to you, you have to wrestle with this whole idea — will you curtsy, won’t you curtsy? And I decided beforehand, “Look, no, I’m not going to bow to royalty,” and then you do it immediately. Immediately you bend far too many and far too deep.

Michael Schein

Buckingham Palace receiving his OBE, 2009

PROBABLY a lot of people get a bit rabbit-in-the-headlight with her. So she does this thing where she shakes your hand and when it’s time for you to leave, she just pushes you away. And I’m from Port Talbot, which is pretty rough, but I was like, ‘Whoah!’


Buckingham Palace

No milk in her tea for a panicked Helen Mirren


No milk in her tea for a panicked Helen MirrenCredit: PA:Press Association

SHE invited me to tea. I thought it would be in a room with 200 other people. So I said: “Well, I can do that.” So I go in and there are about eight people sitting around a table. Prince Philip, the Queen, a sheik and a couple of horse people. I know absolutely nothing about horses and the queen knows everything about horses.

Then I got a cup of tea and the Queen had a very intense chat with Prince Philip about what’s in the sandwiches – very important. “What’s that? 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 is dead and I can’t 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? In the end I ran out of milk. I just couldn’t place it.


Game of Thrones takes place in Belfast in 2014

WE have repeatedly tried to urge her to sit on the series’ Iron Throne, and have been told time and again that she is not allowed to sit on any other thrones, fictional or otherwise.

She was lovely. She asked me a question, “So what are you doing on this production?” And I said, “An actor ma’am.” And she said, “Oh wonderful,” and walked on.

And then we asked her if she wanted to sit on the throne, and she said, “It looks very uncomfortable.”


Letter to his wife from Balmoral, 1928

No one is here except family, household and Princess Elizabeth, who is two years old.

The latter is a figure. She has an aura of authority and thoughtfulness that is amazing for a child.


Windsor Castle, 2005

IT was her son’s wedding to Camilla at Windsor Castle. She got on a table, she stood on the chair, got on the table, then she gave a very funny speech, got down and just mingled with everyone. I got this nudge in my rib, “Will someone give me some cake?” So I said, “Of course ma’am, I’ll get you some cake.” I know it sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.


Buckingham Palace

Lewis Hamilton found himself in pole position when it came to chatting with Her Majesty


Lewis Hamilton found himself in pole position when it came to chatting with Her MajestyCredit: PA

I was invited to lunch with a group – there were about eight of us. I sat right next to her. I sat down and she was on my right so I started talking to her.

And she said, “You talk like this first, and I’ll talk like this, and I’ll come back to you.” So she talked to the guy on the other side for about five minutes, and then she spent the rest of the time talking to me to talk to me


Buckingham Palace, Accolade, 1975

SHE said she had seen all my films but didn’t name any favourites. i feel so wonderful And now I’m going to get drunk.


State banquet at Buckingham Palace with husband Barack, 2011

SHE is wonderfully warm. And funny. And she’s elegant and kind and considerate in a really interesting way.

We gave her this little pin. You know, “What are you getting Her Majesty the Queen?” We stood in line and she was wearing this outfit, it was set with diamonds, and a crown, and you’re like, “This is all real.”

And in the midst of this glory of what she was wearing, she put on the little pin we had given her. I thought, “You wore the pin!” and she said, “Mmm, yeah.” That was my experience, that kind of warmth and intelligence and grace and wit.

Frank Skinner

with Harry Hill and ex-MP Ed Balls celebrating the Queen’s 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall, 2018

It was quite dark in the wings and someone said hello and we looked around and the Queen and Prince Charles were standing there.

And of course you’re like, ‘Oh man! It’s the Queen!” Anyway, we all had to go on stage and stand in a big semicircle behind her, so I stood behind her with Harry Hill and said, “Can you believe we spoke to the Queen ?” And Ed Balls and the others had gone on stage. So Ed said, “Frank, hurry up!” and then I heard this voice, “Frank! Frank! Hurry up!”

And it was the queen. I’ve never moved so fast in my life.

Noel Coward

Having lunch

It was all very upbeat and pleasant, but for me there is always a tiny veil of ‘best manners’ covering the proceedings. I’m not complaining about it, I think it’s right and proper, but I’m constantly aware of it. It’s not like I have a basic urge to tell gross jokes and say “f**k” every five minutes, but I do feel a little resentment that I couldn’t do it when I wanted to.

Michael Palin

Windsor Castle after being knighted in 2019

WE talked about journals after I mentioned that I kept a nightly journal of where I’d been and the people I’d met. She said she did, too, except maybe mine were for release, hers definitely weren’t.

Noting that she found it quite difficult because it always made her a bit groggy, she said, “I usually manage to write for about 15 minutes before my head bumps,” and then she mimed how her head opened banged the table as if she had fallen asleep.


Royal Variety Performance, Dominion Theater London, 2001

Troubles for Kym Marsh at the Royal Variety Performance in 2001


Troubles for Kym Marsh at the Royal Variety Performance in 2001Credit: Rex Features

HER eyes traveled further down and took in my cleavage. I was freaking out. The Queen was the only person with the power to turn A-list stars into chattering wrecks just by being in the same room


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