Heritage

Ian McKellen Admits He and Judi Dench Were Up to No Good at Buckingham Palace During a Dinner with Queen Elizabeth

Yeah, you're definitely not supposed to do that.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/JOHN PHILLIPS
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Just a dame and a knight, casually wreaking havoc in Buckingham Palace.

That's the picture Ian McKellen painted recently on the Graham Norton Show when he confessed that he and Judi Dench weren't on their best behavior during one "very posh occasion" at the Palace.

The pair were attending a dinner with the Queen, where McKellen was seated next to Princess Margaret. (Or as he told it, in reference to The Crown, "I was sitting next Vanessa Kirby—er, Princess Margaret.") Later in the night, they began strolling through the cavernous building, until they stumbled upon one room in particular.

McKellen and Dench were still in earshot of the band and began to dance around the empty space. It was then that McKellen put two and two together. "I think this is the throne room—where you were made a dame and I was made a knight." The only thing missing was the thrones themselves.


Ian McKellen and Judi Dench speak with Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1997

Naturally, they walked—or, twirled—around until they found them. "We went on dancing around the corner, and we found ourselves behind the band, and there behind this sort of partition was the throne," said McKellen. And then... "We sat on them."

That wasn't the only time McKellen had misbehaved at the Palace. The royal family had been a little too trusting once with their choice of dressing room for the actor. When he arrived for the event, he discovered he was given a space right next to the balcony—the one the Windsors use to wave to the crowd.

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McKellen saw it as the perfect chance to light up a quick cigarette on the famous veranda. Which he promptly did, until he noticed a light shining on him from below, coming from a flustered guard. "Sir Ian," he scolded. "don’t forget you’re in Buckingham Palace."

By way of explanation, McKellen simply offered this: "It brings out on the worst of you, Buckingham Palace."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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