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Queen outshines stars at palace

Some of Hollywood's leading actors were left starstruck by the Queen after she hosted a night in celebration of the UK's dramatic arts.

The Buckingham Palace event featured a who's who of leading film makers, entertainers and thespians from directors Steve McQueen and Mike Leigh to actors Sir Roger Moore, Joan Collins and Alan Rickman, and writers Sir Tom Stoppard and Alan Bennett.

Also welcomed to the Queen's London home were John Hurt, Michael Sheen, Ralph Fiennes and Sir Michael Gambon, Jane Horrocks, Angela Lansbury, Helena Bonham Carter and comics Harry Hill and Lenny Henry.

The night was hosted by the Queen in her capacity as patron of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) and the Duchess of Cambridge joined her for the evening wearing a striking red Alexander McQueen dress.

Dame Helen Mirren, famed for playing the Queen on stage and screen, admitted to still being in awe of her despite meeting her a number of times.

But she was not alone, Uma Thurman and Gemma Arterton also found themselves overwhelmed by meeting the monarch.

Speaking about being introduced to the head of state Dame Helen said: "You're thinking 'its the Queen it's the Queen'," and when asked if she still got starstruck replied: "Of course, even more so I think because I feel self conscious, you know."

She added: "I am genuinely always astounded by her aura, her twinkle, her presence. It never fails to surprise me and again it's what everyone says when they meet her - it was what overwhelmed me the first time I met her."

Dame Helen was presented with an honorary fellowship award by the Duke of Cambridge at the Baftas last night and William joked about her portraying the Queen describing the performer as "an extremely talented British actress who I should probably call granny".

Speaking about her conversation with Kate, the actress said: "She said 'my husband called you granny last night' and I said 'yes that was so sweet'."

Hollywood star Thurman famed for her roles in a string of Quentin Tarantino films said about the Queen: "I have met some members of the royal family but never met Her Majesty - it was so overwhelming, it happened very quickly."

Arterton, a former Bond girl, said her parents were excited about her meeting the monarch and curtseying for the Queen was experience enough.

She: "I've met everyone but the Queen, now I've got the full set."

Soon after comic Lenny Henry was introduced to the Queen he joked to other guests: "This is Helen Mirren - she's brilliant".

Film-maker Lord Puttnam, producer Harvey Weinstein and playwrights and screen writers Michael Frayn and Sir Ronald Harwood were also among those invited.

And those who work behind the scenes helping to maintain the British film, television and theatre industry's international reputation, were also present.

Guests were treated to a performance in the palace's ballroom featuring emerging talent and some of the country's much loved and well known stars like Dame Helen.

The Queen and her guests watched the performance and were entertained by songs from the musical Oh! What A Lovely War performed by Rada students.

They were introduced by Hugh Laurie who welcomed the guests to the short performance and acted as a compere.

A scene from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion was staged featuring recent graduate Jessie Buckley as Eliza Doolittle and former Rada student Trevor Eve as Professor Higgins.

Rising star Cynthia Erivo reprised a song from her performance in the musical The Colour Purple and she is about to open in I Can't Sing - The X Factor Musical.

Sir Tom Courtenay delivered a speech from Sir Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser, while Dame Helen delivered one from Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Broadcaster Sir David Attenborough represented his brother the film maker and actor Lord Attenborough who was too ill to attend the evening.

Alan Rickman praised the event and said he was glad Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey was present and had the opportunity to see "what this country produces".

He added: "The more high profile the arts remain in this country the better. "

Rickman went on to say: "You always have to fight for the arts in this country, and when you see Helen able to just hold the place with a piece of Shakespeare that sounds like it was written yesterday - it's brilliant."


From Belfast Telegraph