Dame Helen Mirren was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship for her career in cinema on Sunday, an honour presented to her by Prince William.

Dame Helen won an Oscar in 2006 for portraying his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in The Queen. The prince described her as ‘an extremely talented British actress who I should probably call granny’.

Accepting her award, Dame Helen paid her own tribute to one of her former teachers, Alys Welding, who died recently and ‘alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor’.

She ended by quoting from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, saying: “‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

“My little life is rounded with this honour, thank you very much indeed.”

Speaking backstage, she said William had been ‘charming’.

Slavery drama 12 Years A Slave resisted the force of Gravity to pick up two of the big awards at the BATFAs.

It won the leading actor award for its star Chiwetel Ejiofor and was named best film.

Its director Steve McQueen accepted the best film gong and thanked his ‘one and only mother for having the faith, never give up’.

He told the audience: “There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here. I just hope 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film”.

Chiwetel, who accepted his award from Uma Thurman, said he was ‘so deeply honoured and privileged to receive it’ and thanked Steve for his ‘artistry and passion’.

He said: “You really brought us all through it and had the real vision to tell this extraordinary story. Thank you for this. This is yours by the way, I know that, you know that. I’m going to keep it but it’s yours”.

At one point it had looked like outer-space drama Gravity was going to sweep the board. It won six Baftas including outstanding British film and best director for Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron who beat the much-fancied Steve to the award.

Accepting his award, Alfonso said: “You can not tell from my accent, but I consider myself a part of the British film industry.”

Telling the audience, he had made ‘almost half’ of his films in the UK, he joked: “I guess I’m a very good case for curbing immigration.”

Gravity, which stars US actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, has caused some controversy by being listed as a British film but it was filmed in this country and the team responsible for its visual effects are UK-based.

Click here to see photos of Dame Helen’s stellar career in cinema.