Damian Lewis writes heartfelt tribute after wife Helen McCrory's death: 'Royalty in her own right'

The British actors had been married for 13 years and have two children together

Actor Damian Lewis and his wife actress Helen McCrory at the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards in California in 2016. McCrory died on April 16 of cancer aged 52. Reuters
Actor Damian Lewis and his wife actress Helen McCrory at the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards in California in 2016. McCrory died on April 16 of cancer aged 52. Reuters

English actor Damian Lewis has written a heartfelt tribute to his wife, actress Helen McCrory, who died on Friday of cancer at the age of 52.

In an op-ed for The Sunday Times published on Sunday, Lewis referred to his wife of 13 years as “royalty”.

"On a weekend when the papers, rightly, will be paying their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, thousands of others around the world have been remembering m’Duchess, my Little One, royalty in her own right," he wrote, praising her for her "fearlessness, wit, curiosity, talent and beauty".

“When I say ‘royalty’, I am of course referring to the esteem in which Helen is held in our business. Her nickname to many was Dame Helen."

McCrory was best known internationally for her role in hit BBC show Peaky Blinders, the Harry Potter film series, as well as playing Cherie Blair in the film The Queen.

Helen McCrory with her Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama in 2017. McCrory "died peacefully at home surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family" on Friday, April 16, husband Damian Lewis wrote on Twitter, calling his late wife "beautiful and mighty". AFP
Helen McCrory with her Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama in 2017. AFP

She has also been a prolific stage actress in the UK, starring in a number of high-profile British productions.

McCrory and Lewis met when they both starred in a play called Five Gold Rings at the Almeida Theatre in London, and married in 2007. They have two children together.

It was Lewis who announced McCrory’s death on Twitter on Friday, saying she was "surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family".

“She died as she lived," he wrote in the post. "Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you."

Author JK Rowling called McCrory "an extraordinary actress and wonderful woman who's left us far too soon".

The Twitter account of Peaky Blinders also posted a tribute, saying her performance as matriarch Polly Gray was "inspirational, joyous, transgressive, hilarious and incredibly moving".

In The Sunday Times, Lewis also praised McCrory’s kindness and generosity.

"I've never known anyone so consciously spread happiness. To say 'please' and 'thank you' and 'you're so kind' as much as she did," he wrote. "Even when dying in her last few days, when talking to our wonderful carers, she repeatedly said, 'thank you so much' in her half delirious state.”

In 2020, Lewis and McCrory raised more than £1 million ($1.3m) to provide NHS workers with meals from high-street restaurants amid the pandemic.

Lewis also wrote of McCrory’s bravery in her final days, recounting how she insisted no one be sad after her death.

"Her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to 'normalise' her death,” he said. “She's shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy.”

"I'm staggered by her,” he says. “She's been a meteor in our life."

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Read more:

Why 'Peaky Blinders' has struck a chord around the world

Yes, a 'Peaky Blinders' film is happening: Movie to follow hit show's sixth and final season

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Updated: April 18, 2021 07:06 PM

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