Helen Mirren Meets With Dying Boy in Character, After Queen Elizabeth Says No

By: Robert Kessler / May 22, 2013

Ten-year-old Oliver Burton has been battling cancer for almost his entire life and was recently diagnosed with a terminal case of spine and bone marrow cancer. His one dying wish was to meet Queen Elizabeth II. Too busy looking at flowers and riding in amphibious cars, the Queen said no; that’s where Helen Mirren comes in.

Mirren, who has won an Oscar and a Laurence Olivier Award for separate portrayals of the too-busy-for-dying-children Queen, paid for Oliver and his family to come to London’s Gielgud Theatre to see her play QE2 in The Audience. After the show, she invited Oliver backstage for tea. In character, Oliver and The Real Queen ate finger sandwiches and biscuits served by butlers alongside two corgis who play the Queen’s pets in the play.

She stayed in character for the whole thing,” Oliver’s father James Browne told the Daily Mail. “Oliver thought she was the real Queen, and well, that’s good enough for us.”

After tea, Mirren knighted Oliver, who has Downs Syndrome in addition to cancer, and instructed everyone to refer to him as sir. She also signed a British flag for the boy.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet such a brave young man,” Mirren told The Sun.