Dame Judi Dench scoffed 11 eggs to complete scene as Queen Victoria

Dame Judi Dench says playing Queen Victoria is not all glamour, revealing she had to eat her way through 11 boiled eggs to complete one scene.

The Oscar-winner revisits playing the monarch in Victoria & Abdul 20 years after first taking on the role.

It tells the story of her relationship with Indian servant Abdul Karim, a piece of history suppressed for more than a century.

Speaking at a premiere of the movie at Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, Dench said: “In one scene I had to sit up in bed eating a boiled egg during the scene and we did quite a lot of takes.

“Our prop man, Campbell, came to me and said, ‘Are you interested in knowing how many boiled eggs you’ve eaten?’ I said, ‘I am quite’.

“He said, ’11’,” she laughed. “It’s not just sitting around in nice dresses, you know.”

Dame Judi, 82, added that she revisited the role that she won a Golden Globe for in 1997’s Mrs Brown because of the little known vulnerable side of the monarch that the story revealed.

The extent of Victoria’s relationship with Karim was exposed by Indian journalist Shrabani Basu after she noticed a curious painting of the servant while visiting Osborne House in the Isle of Wight.

Basu researched Victoria’s Hindustani journals and exercise books showing Karim was teaching her Urdu in order to write the book Victoria & Abdul.

Victoria’s family were firmly against the relationship and after her death destroyed much of the evidence.

Director Stephen Frears said it reveals a more sympathetic side to the monarch, adding that he hopes US President Donald Trump watches the film on repeat.

“We have a President of the United States who doesn’t like Muslims so any film that says that the empress of India likes Muslims is a good thing,” he said.

“I’d like him to see it, possibly on a loop in the White House.”

The film has received mixed reviews, with The Guardian’s Xan Brooks describing it as a “cloth-eared Gunga Din tale” but praised Dench’s “shrewd, affecting performance”.

:: Victoria & Abdul will be released in UK cinemas on Friday.


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