Helen Mirren: ‘Meghan Markle was a fantastic addition to the royal family’

Berlinale 2020 - Helen Mirren in the Red City Hall

Helen Mirren is in Germany this week for the Berlinale International Film Festival. She’s there to receive the Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement from the festival for her body of work. Well deserved! The Berlinale also likes for their honorary award winners to do Q&A sessions and press, which is how we’ve gotten these great quotes from Helen about feminism, Margaret Thatcher, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Helen’s played queens and she’s something of a royalist. But she fully supports Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit:

On Sussexit: “I think their instincts are absolutely right, and I applaud them for it. Hugely actually. Of course, it is complicated. Meghan Markle was a fantastic addition to the royal family – charming, did everything right, was gracious, was sweet natured, and seemed to be … Wow! What a lovely addition. Didn’t seem to be neurotic…So, I think it is a loss in a way, but at the same time I think their instincts are absolutely correct. And I think it will all, hopefully, sort itself out, and the tabloid pearl-clutchers will get over their trauma at not having someone to attack all the time. They’ll find another victim… probably me.”

On the state of female actors in the film industry: She says she prefers the term “actress…It has a slightly fin de siècle feel about it that I like. But thank you for being politically correct; I approve of political correctness as well, so that’s alright…. Oh god, there’s more work to be done, further to go, but it is great, it’s absolutely great. It just pisses me off that I’m not now 23, and that that world is not open to me, because it is a much better world than it was when I was 23.”

She was and is an angry woman: “I have often been asked if I was angry, and I was profoundly angry about it as I ticked off 20 male characters to one or two female characters if you were lucky. Incidentally it hasn’t changed that much. At least now you have female-led movies, and occasionally it is mostly female (casts) – still very rare, but at least they exist. But I always said when I was asked that question, and I still believe it, don’t worry about women’s profiles in drama, although you should, but worry about women’s profiles in life – in politics, in particular, and in the professions – and fight for that, and to a certain extent I was right because that world changed, and as night follows day drama and culture – us looking at ourselves through drama, through art – has changed, because they are looking at a different world. So change the world and culture will change alongside that.”

On Margaret Thatcher: She describes Thatcher as her “greatest female role model,” adding “not because I believed in her politics – I absolutely did not. I don’t think she was a great person as a person.” But she says a little girl who saw Margaret Thatcher on television would say “Mummy who’s that?” and the mother would reply, “That is the Prime Minister of England.” “Then that 4-year-old’s head goes: ‘Women can be Prime Minister of England.’ That wasn’t the case when I was 4 years old.”

Whether she would ever direct. “I think I am intrinsically too lazy. I did direct. I did a half-hour film for Showtime TV. I absolutely loved the experience. I was quite good at it. In fact Showtime asked me to do a full-length feature afterwards. But, again, I’m much too lazy. You know, honestly, I want to sit at home and watch TV.”

[From Variety]

I think what she says about Thatcher is interesting, and I do believe she despises Thatcher’s politics, but she’s right, just seeing a woman in that position was a positive thing. Or maybe not, because Thatcher is still regarded as one of the most hated world leaders of the 20th century. As for what Mirren says about the Sussexes… spoiler, it will NOT sort itself out. And the aside about how Meghan didn’t seem neurotic seems like a backhanded insult at Diana, honestly!

Panel discussion with Helen Mirren, Berlinale 2020

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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19 Responses to “Helen Mirren: ‘Meghan Markle was a fantastic addition to the royal family’”

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  1. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Perhaps but it could also be interpreted as a jab at Kate. Who for YEARS leaned on her “shyness” and pregnancies as an excuse not to work.

  2. Lilah casting says:

    Eh you can nitpick her other comment about being neurotic being at dig at Diana but is not entirely wrong she wasn’t perfect just another human beings with problems pushed to the edge by a bad marriage and a lousy husband, it’s and probably many women are in this situation but are not harrased by the press thankfully she not ignorant or hasn’t shosen to ignore the obvious attack on Meghan by the British press

  3. Becks1 says:

    The neurotic comment cracked me up but if it was a dig at Diana, then its not as funny. But I still find it interesting – not surprising, but interesting – that almost every celebrity or outsider that gets asked about Sussexit is like….yeah….they’re doing the right thing. It seems to be only the Piers Morgan’s of the world and his followers that don’t understand it.

    • L4frimaire says:

      Totally agree withHelen on this point. I think the neurotic could refer to Kate as well. There is a freakishly controlling vibe about Kate. She’s the type who will use her so called meekness to manipulate others.

    • Artemis says:

      Becks1 – Piers Morgan is a fossil and frankly no one cares about this opinion on H&M. I am sure that’s the general vibe in the UK anyway. I am glad everyone is supportive to Meghan because everyone knows that Waity Kaity and Wandering Willy got jealous of Sussex’s work ethic.

  4. Bella says:


  5. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I think she’s talking about the current Royal temperature. Neurosis is a good diagnosis for the lot of them today. And I enjoy her admission of being lazy lol. I can only imagine how many hours are necessary every day when directing. And the pressure about everything. I’d much rather sit and watch too!

  6. vertes says:

    Brava, Dame Helen!

  7. Rhos says:

    The honest “nah, I’m just too lazy” comment got me! I love this woman!

  8. Ali says:

    I love that she isn’t afraid to say she’s good at something, no great at something, and yet chooses to spend her time elsewhere because she can, with no regrets. And I love thats she’s still mad at the place in the world women have been forced to occupy while acknowledging that some positive change has been made.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      Those were my takeaways too. It’s so ingrained to not self-praise as women. Although, on 30 Rock, I loved Jenna’s humble brags. I was about to say aloud that I looked great that day and I stopped myself. I hated that, because it wasn’t to be mean or compare, but a self-affirming thing and I couldn’t do it. It’s the same whether looks or abilities – less so though and it takes practice. I’m so happy to have Dame Helen as a role model and I also agree that their instincts were correct to go and what an asset they had.

  9. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I have to agree with this. I honestly dont think Helen Mirren would take a jab at deceased Diana. That’s not her style and she’s too classy for that. I DO however think she would take a jab at Kate & Will. Because they deserve it.

  10. What. . .now? says:

    I always enjoy Helen Mirren — in movies or interviews. She seems like a cool chick, and I bet she would be so fun to hang out with! Imagine the stories she could tell!

  11. TIFFANY says:

    Next headline: Petty Liz tries to revokes Helen Mirren’s Damehood.

  12. Sarah says:

    I find her Thatcher comment fascinating. I was born in Britain in 1978 so grew up with her as prime minister. I am 100% feminist (and angry) and had put that down to a combination of educating myself and my parents view that you need to get on and do what you want with your life but now I’m wondering how much that also had an impact. Hate her as I do, I grew up with a woman leading my country.

    • Dee Kay says:

      This comment, and Mirren’s, make me cry for the Hillary presidency we could have and should have had. When I think of all the little girls growing up now who *aren’t* seeing a woman POTUS in the news…sigh. My heart breaks. One day, perhaps. Maybe even one day soon, if Warren is the nominee and wins, though I’m not holding my breath for that (though I am voting Warren in my state primary). It’s irritating that so many countries have had female leaders (UK, India, Pakistan, Philippines, New Zealand, etc.) and NOT the U.S.