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I used to hate the royals, says 'queen' Mirren

AS a young actress, Helen Mirren was proud to be a "grumpy anti-monarchist".

What a difference a few decades, a damehood and an Oscar-winning turn as the queen can make.

Mirren (66) has now spoken of her affection for the royal family and her hope to see Prince Charles crowned king of England.

"At the time of the silver jubilee I was a grumpy anti-monarchist. I didn't celebrate and I was appalled by the celebrations," she said.

"In my idiocy I missed out. Actually a lot of street parties people held looked great fun, so silly me. I feel completely differently now.

"My hope is to see Charles become king one day. I 'd like to see him come to the throne. He will make a very good monarch. He's a courageous guy too -- I have a lot of time for him."

Prince Charles awarded the actress a damehood at a ceremony in 2003.

Mirren has joked that the prince was so distracted by her cleavage that he failed to sign her insignia correctly.

The actress won an Oscar for her role in the 2006 film The Queen, and developed an admiration for the monarch while researching that role.

She said: "The fact that the queen stayed on course as a person is amazing. She never got too fat or too thin. She has stayed consistent."

But Mirren said she is still offended by the class system in Britain. "I'm not in favour of the concept of monarchy, but I do see the good in it if there's a good person in the role," she said.