The Duchess of Cornwall met a Dame who has played two English Queens this week whilst visiting Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She spent some time on a private beach with Dame Judi Dench, who received an Oscar for her appearance as Queen Elizabeth I, and played Queen Victoria in Victoria & Abdul. Many of the scenes were filmed in the grounds of Queen Victoria’s former residence on the Isle of Wight.
Dame Judi is now one of the patrons of the friends of Osborne House, but it turns out that the Duchess’s connection goes a lot further back, to the mid-1840s. Her great-great-grandfather was the architect, Thomas Cubitt. Thomas designed the main façade of Buckingham Palace and was also responsible for the building of Osborne House to an Italian Renaissance design of Prince Albert. The house was intended to be a retreat from the stresses of court and was built after the early house they bought was found to be too small.
Both had adored the area for two distinct reasons, for Prince Albert the view reminded him of the Bay of Naples and for Queen Victoria, childhood memories at the nearby Norris Castle. Though, it is likely Osborne House was not the only topic of conversation between the two as both are known lovers of the environment. We all know the work the Prince of Wales and the Duchess have done with regards to conservation, and the excellent documentary between The Queen and Richard Attenborough. But another documentary that was shown last year was Dame Judi Dench walking around the trees on her land with the expert guidance of senior tree staff from the Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The couple enjoyed ice creams as they strolled and laughed as some of the melting cream ended up on the Duchess’s chin. She later admitted she would have preferred a dip in the sea to cool down; we can only contemplate whether Dame Judi in her Queen Victoria role would have been amused!