Dame Helen Mirren has revealed playing The Queen has converted her to the monarchy and made her proud to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

The British actress - who won an Oscar for her role in the 2006 film - told Woman & Home magazine she was an "idiot" for not joining in previous Jubilee celebrations.

Helen said: "At the time of the Silver Jubilee, I was a grumpy anti-monarchist. I didn't celebrate and was appalled by the celebrations. In my idiocy I missed out! Actually a lot of the street parties people held looked great fun, so silly me.

"I feel completely differently now compared with that time. At the Golden Jubilee, I understood the amazing longevity of the Queen's reign and the importance of it. I really felt something extraordinary was unfolding - and now at 60 years, it's that much more.

"I feel kind of proud about this Jubilee. And actually immensely grateful that my life has had this one constant in it. I think the Jubilee is a very special and unique part of being British."

But the 66-year-old actress - who is married to American director Taylor Hackford and divides her time between the US and the UK - blasted Brits for being too cynical.

She said: "The one thing I really don't mind escaping when I go away is the alacrity with which Brits like to put people down. It's nice to escape from that. Sometimes there's a narrowness of vision in the UK - maybe it's partly an island mentality.

"In America, they are less cynical and maybe a bit more naive. Brits are somehow more critical and mealy-mouthed. And there can be a sense of small-minded jealousy sometimes."