George and Charlotte love Gruffalo audiobooks, William tells Imelda Staunton


The Duke of Cambridge has revealed his children's love of The Gruffalo audiobooks as he presented narrator Imelda Staunton with her CBE.

William told the Vera Drake actress that Prince George and Princess Charlotte listen to her readings of the Julia Donaldson books on car journeys.

Imelda, who has won four Olivier Awards and a Bafta, was honoured for her services to drama at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Imelda Staunton poses with her husband Jim Carter

She is better known with younger audiences for her portrayal of Dolores Umbridge in two Harry Potter films, as well as Mrs Blatherwick in Nanny McPhee, and can now add the young royals to her fan base.

After she collected her CBE from the Duke, she said: "We did have a nice chat about what I do and that their children listen to me because I've done all of the Julia Donaldson books, The Gruffalo and 10 or 12 others, and they listen to them in the car so they know my voice."

She was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her titular role in Vera Drake, about a working class woman performing illegal abortions in the 1950s, but said nothing matches her day at the Palace.

She said: "Nothing compares to this, because it's real.

Imelda Staunton

"Being an actor and then getting a prize, well it's prize enough doing the job, we get made enough fuss of. But with this, I feel included with what people in the nation have done, I feel like one of them.

"The only time I feel a tiny bit important is when I think I've done what that economist lady has just done or the woman trying to get more women being CEOs, that to me is what it should be about and I'm being recognised for my work and they are for their work."

She added: "Baftas and awards are your peers and occasionally the public, but this is your country."

Imelda Staunton performing on stage in Gypsy

Imelda, 60, was joined at the ceremony by her husband and Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter and their daughter Bessie, and said the couple are planning a quieter life now she has finished her West End run in Gypsy and Downton Abbey has concluded.

She said: "Hard work is great but, having done eight months last year, I don't want to do any theatre this year because I have to have a life. My husband has stopped doing Downton Abbey and also stopped being chairman of the cricket club so we have a bit of that strange thing called life.

"We didn't even have weekends. Most people who do ordinary jobs have weekends but we didn't even have that."