When the Queen invited the Queen to dinner …

While it is not a constitutional crisis on the scale of, say, Prince William breaking with a girlfriend or his brother kicking a photographer outside a nightclub, the row between the Queen and “the Queen” has been causing serious problems in royal circles. At one level, it was trivial matter – the Queen invited Helen Mirren to dinner and Mirren was unable to attend – and yet this apparent rejection has taken on symbolical importance. The fake monarch has snubbed the real one.

“Her Majesty is seriously annoyed,” a well-placed royal insider reports. “Last week she sat up in bed in the middle of the night and shouted, ‘Who does that bitch think she is?’ It gave the Duke of Edinburgh quite a turn and he was unable to get back to sleep. It’s the talk of the palace.”

Who was to blame? Fortunately, we have been able to gain access to the full correspondence under the Freedom of Information Act, so that the public can decide which queen was at fault.

“Dear Miss Mirren, Our equerry informs us that you have declined our gracious invitation to dinner. We fear there must have been some awful misunderstanding here. We, the Queen of England, are inviting you, an actress, for a personal dinner. While we realise you must be quite busy learning your lines, putting on your make-up and so on, we really must point out that royal schedule is on a different level to that in civilian life. We have made an effort, and so shall you. We look forward to your acceptance. Elizabeth R.”

“Your Majesty, I am deeply honoured to have been invited to dinner – it would have been a thrill to compare notes with you on being the Queen! – but sadly I have this God-awful filming schedule in Dakota with Nick Cage and Jon Voight (Angelina Jolie’s dad!). Not only would the shoot have to be held up but I would have to get in and out of character in order to do dinner with you. That can be quite psychologically dangerous for an actor. Let’s try to get together before the next awards season comes round. Cheers, Helen.”

“Miss Mirren, One of the few advantages of being the best-known women in the world is that, just now and then, we are able to insist. So now perhaps I could myself crystal clear. You. Are. Coming. To. Dinner. Tell the film people that we’ll attend their premiere thingy, so long as there’s no gratuitous nudity. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, come to think of it. One of our staff told us that The Queen was the first film in which you managed to keep your top on. One should be grateful for small mercies, we suppose. Please spare the actorish guff about ‘getting into character’. What do you think we have done every day for the past 50 years? Pull yourself together, woman. Elizabeth R.”

“Your Majesty, May I be candid? Acting happens to be the spiritually and physically draining of all artistic professions. Playing you, I lost several pounds and came out in hives whenever those ghastly dogs came near me. Did I mention it in profiles or interviews? No. That’s because I’m a professional. It’s what I do. I am frankly finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on my character in this film while receiving unhelpful letters from someone I acted in the past. Can I speak to you woman to woman? Time to move on, love. It was only a dinner, for Christ’s sake! Helen.”

“I say, Mirren. I was fast asleep last night when I was awoken by Her Majesty the Queen screaming abuse into the darkness. The publicists here have been mincing about, complaining that we’ve ‘dropped the ball big-time’ on ‘a potentially mega PR opportunity’. It turns out that you’re behind all this nonsense. Just bloody show up, woman. Remember that damehoods can be taken away as easily as they are given. Yours aye, The Duke of Edinburgh.”

Asked about this correspondence, a Palace spokesman has said: “We never comment on private correspondence from the royal family, even to a rude and ungrateful actress.