Helen Mirren has done it again. When the 67-year-old actress heard that a young cancer patient would not be granted his dying wish to have tea with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, she put on her awesome hat and happily swooped in to save the day.
Oliver Burton is a 10-year-old boy who has been battling different forms of cancer for most of his life. Now that he's been diagnosed with terminal spine and bone marrow cancer, he may have only a few weeks to live -- and his biggest dream has been to visit the Queen of England for afternoon tea at the Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, Ollie's family was told that the Queen would be unable to meet with the boy.
That's where Helen Mirren came in. When the actress heard of Oliver's dream of meeting the Queen, she brought the boy and his family to see her West End show The Audience, in which she plays Queen Elizabeth. Then she brought Oliver backstage to visit.
Oliver's parents Catherine and James said their son, who has Down's syndrome, was completely convinced that Helen Mirren was really the Queen.
"Dame Helen was brilliant," Oliver's mother Catherine told the Leicester Mercury. "She stayed in character the whole time and spent a lot of time talking to Oliver and drawing him out of himself. She signed his British flag, which he waves all the time. Even now, if you ask him who he met recently, he smiles and waves the flag. He believes he met the real Queen and that's fine by us."
"She stayed in character for the whole thing and had a butler," said Oliver's father James, a former Coldstream Guard and now a full-time caretaker for his son. "She was really lovely."
It sounds like Mirren made certain Oliver got the full royal treatment, bringing along footmen to cater to them as they enjoyed their tea and sandwiches. Dame Helen also surprised Oliver with an appearance by the corgi dogs that appear in the show with the actress.
To top it all off, Mirren left Oliver with a title. Before the boy departed with his family to their stretch limo, "The Queen" knighted him with her hand.
The visit made a big impact on Oliver and his family, lifting their spirits amid what must have been an unimaginably stressful time.
"We were treated like royalty," Catherine Burton said. "It has provided so many memories for friends and family. It gave us all such a lift."
The family has been dedicated to raising funds for special trips for Oliver in collaboration with the National Children's Tumour Leukaemia Cancer Trust, which helped arrange the visit with Dame Helen and posted photos of the unforgettable evening on Facebook.
Dame Helen told The Sun. "It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet such a brave young man."