She is a darling of the establishment, a doyen of stage and television and, after playing three different queens on the big screen, is the closest thing to acting royalty Britain has.
But Helen Mirren has revealed she was slightly ambivalent about becoming a Dame - because she sees herself as a bit of an outsider.
Dame Helen, 69, told the Sunday Mirror's Notebook magazine: "I was kind of ambivalent about it because I've always seen myself as slightly on the outside or the edge of things.
"In Britain, a Damehood is very much being welcomed by the establishment... so I was a bit wary.
"To me, actors shouldn't be too establishment. Our job is to be sort of anti-establishment.
"But on the other hand... I just know how incredibly proud my father and Russian ancestors would have been.
"So, I took it for that reason and I did feel embarrassingly proud about it."
Dame Helen, whose career has spanned almost 50 years, said she was obsessive about her work as a young actress but grew out of it.
She also said she finds it hard when people find her intimidating but admitted that she was nervous about meeting Bruce Willis, her co-star in the Red and Red 2 films.
"I was looking at him and going, 'Oh my god, it's Bruce Willis, oh f**k, it's Bruce Willis, what do I do? What do I say, what do I do, where do I put my hands?" she said.
"And he just walked up, put his arms around me, and gave me a big hug."
Dame Helen also admitted to having a crush on actor Mel Gibson during the days of his Mad Max films - and says she does not consider herself a sex symbol.