Judi Dench lamented ‘weight’ of royal life amid Harry struggle: ‘I couldn’t do that’

Judi Dench says she has 'admiration' for the royal family

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Judi appears on the Graham Norton Show tonight at 10:35pm on BBC One. Graham Norton welcomes an incredibly varied array of guests on tonight’s show including former US President Barack Obama and ‘Born to Run’ singer Bruce Springsteen to promote their podcast and book ‘Renegades: Born in the USA’. Rapper Tinie Tempah also features upon the release of his new property show ‘Extraordinary Extensions’.

Hollywood legend Salma Hayek will also appear to discuss her Marvel debut in ‘Eternals’ while acting royalty Judi, and her co-star Jamie Dornan, join Graham to promote critically acclaimed film ‘Belfast’.

Music comes from Former Little Mix star Jesy Nelson, who performs her new single Boyz.

Judi’s professional acting debut came with the Old Vic Company in 1957 where she made her name performing roles in several Shakespeare plays including Ophelia in Hamlet and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth.

The legendary actor has also found success playing members of the Royal Family, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in 1998 film ‘Shakespeare in Love’. 

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In 2017, Judi starred as Queen Victoria in ‘Victoria & Abdul’ which details the story of Abdul Karim, a young prison clerk from India who struck up an unlikely friendship with the monarch.

When asked by ET Canada if she felt more connected with the Royal Family after her performance as Queen Victoria, Judi said:“Well I just have a great, great admiration for them.

“They didn’t choose to be in this position but to be in it and to be with the weight of that responsibility.

“And having the spotlight on you all the time [on] everything you do, and all your days are planned and set out.

“I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t do that at all.”

Discussing the isolation Queen Victoria must have felt Judi added: “I just can identify very easily, not with, of course, the responsibilities that Queen Victoria had, but I can identify very clearly with being in your eighties, your husband dying and suddenly many of your friends dying.

“Seven of my friends this year have died, and plus my brother, which is the end of my grown up family ahead of me ‒ somebody said to me the other day, ‘yes but you have to expect that, you’re in your eighties’.

“Well, if you have that and you also don’t have many actual people you call your friends…”

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The actor was speaking just months after Harry told the Telegraph in 2017 that he had sought counselling and admitted enduring two years of “total chaos” in his late twenties, while trying to come to terms with his mother’s death.

Harry said he “shut down all his emotions” after losing his mother Princess Diana in a tragic car crash in 1997.

The Duke of Sussex said that losing his mother had a “quite serious effect” on his personal and professional life.

He also admitted that grieving in the public eye left him feeling “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions” and said he faced anxiety on royal engagements.

Speaking to Bryony Gordon in the first episode of the Telegraph’s Mad World podcast, the Duke said he felt himself battling a “flight or fight” reaction on royal duties.

Harry, who was 12 when his mother died, said: “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had quite a serious effect on, not only my personal life, but my work as well.

“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”

Harry later admitted in an interview with his AppleTV+ documentary ‘The Me You Can’t See’ he had even experienced “panic attacks” ahead of attending royal engagements.

In 2016, Harry, alongside Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, led the Heads Together campaign, which united eight mental health charities.

Heads Together attempts to tackle challenges people face in seeking help. and has encouraged millions of people to seek mental health support since its inception.

Watch the Graham Norton Show tonight on BBC One at 10pm.

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