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Queen Elizabeth II, fresh off her triumphant trip to her semi-retarded former colony, has invited her Academy-Award-winning portraitist (and occasional Defamer forbidden lust object) Helen Mirren to dine with her at Buckingham Palace. Reports spread quickly that Mirren turned the invitation down, for the rather unregal excuse that the actress was unable to escape the South Dakota shoot of the much-unanticipated next installment in the Bruckheimerian scavenger hunt series, National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Now, via a message tied to the leg of a carrier pigeon branded with the logo of a leading Hollywood P.R. firm, comes Mirren's own official explanation of the royal regrets:

"I was honoured to be invited to dinner at the Palace. This was a gracious gesture and very appreciated by me. It was therefore hard to have to decline. I was contracted on that date to be working in South Dakota, in a situation which was impossible to change.

I would have made every effort to attend if it had been humanly possible. I explained this to the Palace officials, and I believe they understood. I would never have the hubris or the rudeness to insult anyone who had the kindness to invite me to dinner. "

Another statement was included from the Book of Secrets production itself, like a parent's note proferred by a terror-stricken, recently absent child to a stern school headmistress.

"The "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" production company regrets that it was unable to release Ms. Mirren from her shooting schedule in order to accept the honor of dining with Queen Elizabeth last week. All attempts were made to accommodate Her Majesty's request but a very challenging and uncompromising production schedule in South Dakota, complicated further by poor weather conditions and locked-in locations, made this impossible. Ms. Mirren has only the greatest admiration and respect for the Queen, and is truly sorry that prior commitments to the production prevented her from accepting the Queen's kind and prestigious invitation."

Hopefully, that will be enough to get Mirren off the Windsor Shit List and offered a royal rain check. We can't help but foster a hope that the two women will eventually develop into BFFs, though our fantasy involving them bonding over a ceremonial stag-shooing on the grounds of Balmoral is admittedly far-fetched.