When he was asked about how his favorite member of the Royal Family was a few years ago, Damian did not even hesitate for a moment:
Queen Elizabeth II, the second longest reigning monarch in history, passed away last week. Even if you are not a student of history, just knowing that her first Prime Minister was born in 1874 (Winston Churcill) and her last was born in 1975 (Liz Truss) is quite enough to recognize what a remarkable life and reign she had. I understand that emotions are still high about her passing, but the Queen’s life is certainly one to celebrate. And Damian has paid a tribute to the late Monarch on Twitter sharing a sweet moment he had with her once.
I loved the Queen. It’s a sad day.
Sat by her side in the drawing room of the US residence once as someone played a tune from a favourite musical at the piano. She hummed, completely out of tune, turned to me with joyful eyes and said “Oh it does take me back..” RIP OUR ROCK.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) September 9, 2022
What an extraordinary act of will the Queen’s life was. A total commitment to decency, duty and service to her people, reassuring us in dark times that”this too shall pass”, soothing us with her words. Selfless and wise. Wondrous woman. God speed Your Majesty.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) September 9, 2022
We already know that Damian is no stranger to the Royal Family. We have seen him hanging out with the Windsors over the years. So why don’t we take a walk in memory lane and remember the moments Damian had with his favorite royal as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II?
USA Today, in an interview about Wolf Hall and Henry VIII, asks Damian what it is that makes the Royal Family so intriguing:
“They provide a lot of stories. I think they are best and they are great ambassadors for the country but they provide fairy tales… Prince Charles and Princess Diana fairytale which you guys over here… goodness… you know… just lapped up and they become great sources of fascination… “
Well, well, it is not just America! I was an 8 year old kid in Turkey on the day Charles and Diana got married. I was glued to the TV during the entire ceremony and loved it when they kissed on the balcony. And, believe me, I was this little girl who never fancied being a princess and never played with dolls or Barbies. To this day, my fascination with Prince Charles and Princess Diana is a mystery to me. Who knows maybe it is the fairy tale aspect that Damian is talking about…. Anyway… back to Damian!
“Will and Katherine’s is another fairy tale… slightly different type of fairy tale… the first middle class, less aristocratic princess in Kate Middleton… that’s the sign of the times… Currently, I think the queen maintains a dignity and an integrity in spite of everything that can be thrown at her or her family. She is a figurehead and I think a reason to believe in the monarchy still…”
Damian participated in the final night of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations at Windsor Castle back in 2016. The celebration, filmed live on castle grounds, was about narrating the Queen’s life story as the longest-reigning British monarch from her birth in 1926 to present day. And our guy was among the crowd greeting the Queen and Prince Philip as they arrived for the final night of special birthday celebrations…
… And then he was on stage introducing a horse battalion in connection to some historic moments in queen’s life… Well, everyone knows that the queen LOVES horses! But did you know that her love for horses worked some wonders for Damian, too? 🙂 Curious? Then read on!
Both Damian and his late wife Helen McCrory served as ambassadors for The Prince’s Trust, a charity founded by King Charles III 40 years ago, that help disadvantaged young people to find jobs or get education and training.
And when they attended the Trust’s Invest in Future fund-raising gala a few years ago, Damian could not help “teach” Prince Charles some history lesson… Hey, don’t forget, he’s some kingly king, too!
As the duo talk about Damian playing Henry VIII in Wolf Hall, Damian goes:
“You know he invented ‘Your Majesty’? No monarch before Henry VIII was ‘Your Majesty’, because monarch wasn’t enough.”
Charles: “They teach us to read and everything, Sir!”
And Helen’s words on the exchange are PRICELESS 🙂
“Only my husband could give the future king of England history lessons on the monarchy.”
It turns out Damian and Helen met the Queen earlier in 2013 at Windsor Castle when she received a honorary BAFTA. And, the Queen, being the horse-racing expert that she is, gave them a tip or two.
“I asked for the Grand National, because that’s the only time we’re there, and she said ‘no, no, no, that’s miles away – you need tips for Royal Ascot first.’ She gave me a tip for Royal Ascot and it came with a royal seal.”
Damian cannot remember the name of the horse he bet on but he remembers the amount he won:
“Enough for a weekly shop”.
Not bad, huh? 😀
Both Damian and Helen were awarded OBEs as part of the Queen’s Birthday celebrations in 2014 and 2017, respectively. OBE is part of the UK honor system and it is “awarded for having a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally in their chosen area.” Accordingly, both Damian and Helen were commended for their services to drama. And while Damian received his OBE from the Duke of Cambridge (now the Prince of Wales), Helen received her OBE from the Queen herself.
Damian’s first reaction to his OBE was, as usual, priceless:
“I decided to do the very un-British thing of accepting the compliment. I don’t think our republican cousins quite understand our honours system or are that bothered about it.”
Damian told Daily Mail about being made OBE just after the ceremony at the palace:
“I was stupified, I had no idea, so it was a big, big surprise… I remember when I heard I was being awarded it, it was a little bit like “now you’ve got to prove it… ‘It was a bit like being asked to be a prefect, now I have to be extremely responsible.”
Here is a little video just minutes after Damian received his honor – see it if you are curious about where the phrase “Your Majesty” is coming from! 🙂
And the way Damian answers a question from a fan, Jon Holdsworth, in American Buffalo programme booklet, attests to how much he values the honour he received from the Queen:
“Which moment made you prouder – receiving an OBE from the Queen or scoring in the Soccer Aid penalty shoot-out in 2010?”
Damian’s answer to Mr. Holdsworth:
Damian joined forces with Dame Helen Mirren last year to pay tribute to the Queen before her 95th birthday. The duo recorded an album called The Music of Kings and Queens that tell a series of stories about British kings and queens throughout history beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with the current Queen.
The words Damian and Helen Mirren read were written by Simon Brooksward, an event producer and director who was involved in the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. And each story is set in music composed by Grammy-nominated contemporary composer Debbie Wiseman.
Dame Helen said that she enjoyed the opportunity to work with both Damian and Debbie Wiseman on this musical journey into royal history.
“I am honored to be able to record the words with Damian and participate in celebrating Her Majesty’s 95th birthday. Debbie did a great job of composing and recording music.”
“I was happy to be asked to help Debbie and Helen talk about the image of the monarch. Heroic, noble, and corrupt. It was bright and very enjoyable to get a glimpse of the hearts and minds of those kings and queens through Debbie’s inspiring music.”
Wiseman said it was great for Damian to accompany her music again as she composed for Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in BBC’s Wolf Hall.
“He and Helen were both nice and it was an absolute pleasure to work with them.
Finally, Damian opened the evening at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations only a few months ago where the ceremony took viewers on a “gallop through history” from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I through to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. You can view more photos of the celebration on our gallery here. and see a glimpse of Damian’s opening of the ceremony below.
.@lewis_damian provides an introduction for the historical and equine journey we're about to embark upon. #PlatinumJubilee #BritBox pic.twitter.com/lOKS8MMwp9
— BritBoxUS (@BritBox_US) May 15, 2022
In late May, we learnt that Damian was made a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in Queen Elizabeth’s annual birthday honours. This very well-deserved honor comes for Damian’s services to charity especially for initiating Feed NHS, a campaign Damian ran with Helen that raised more than 1 million pounds to provide food for NHS workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. What he and Helen did for Feed NHS is exemplary citizenship. We know that Helen would surely be made a CBE herself if she were with us today. No wonder Damian has also said that he would share his award with Helen. She’ll smile from above as Damian accepts the honour.
Finally, BBC3 has just released Words and Music on September 11 (available for 29 days) that includes “a special sequence of music and spoken words reflecting on the life and reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II with readings by Juliet Stevenson and Damian Lewis alongside archive speeches by the Queen herself.” While the sequence represents many of the writers and composers closely associated with the Queen, including all of her Poets Laureate and Masters of the Queen’s Music, the music also includes some of the Queen’s own favourite pieces. You can listen to the programme here.
Rest in Peace, Your Majesty.