Oliver Burton, a 10-year-old British boy with Downs Syndrome and terminal spine and bone marrow cancer, wanted nothing more than to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. But when asked, Her Royal Highness denied Oliver’s simple request. Though Oliver was not able to take tea with the real Queen, he was able to do arguably the next best thing: have tea with Dame Helen Mirren, who played both Queen Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II (as well as Queen Charlotte, wife of George III) in film and on television.
Hellen arranged, from her own pocket, for Oliver and his parents to receive tickets to her award winning play The Audience in which she plays the Queen. Afterwards, she invited Oliver and his mother backstage where she offered them tea and sandwiches in costume and in character. Oliver’s parents were a little worried that she might be stern in person: Mirren recently made minor headlines by storming out of her theater in full costume to berate a troop of drummers on the street outside because their music was intruding on the play. But Oliver’s father told The Daily Mail “She really was lovely.”
She stayed in character for the whole thing. Oliver thought she was the real Queen, and well, that’s good enough for us… She did the whole thing – had a butler there, was dressed in costume and did it all properly for him.
She sat in Oliver’s wheelchair and gave him her big chair. She had a glass of coke together and biscuits and little sandwiches and they even brought in her corgis from the show, Coco and Roco. She was wonderful and in some of the photos you do a double take because she really does look like the real Queen.
…He took his British flag and got her to sign it and just waved and waved it all day.
Mirren even made a show of knighting Oliver, telling him that everyone had to call him Sir Oliver from now on.
So if you’ve ever dressed up in costume and pleased a child, whether professionally or just because cosplay is fun, remember: Helen Mirren totally gets it.