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Why Dame Judi Dench will never marry 'my champ' David following death of husband Michael

The Casino Royale actress is adamant she won't marry or live with her partner

Dame Judi Dench in white and David Mills in a black suit
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyWeddings Editor
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Dame Judi Dench, 88, ruled out marrying her long-term partner David Mills, 78, as she opened up about their unconventional 13-year relationship.

The Casino Royale actress was previously married to Michael Williams for thirty years before he passed away in 2001 from lung cancer aged 65. Judi has been very open about her heartbreak following his death, telling David Tennant on his podcast it left an "enormous chasm" in her life.

Judi Dench on her wedding day with Michael Williams© Getty
The actress married Michael Williams in 1971

However, she went on to find love with conservationist David after they bonded over their shared love of the environment. He admitted their love story began after he invited Judi to open a new red squirrel enclosure at the British Wildlife Centre in Newchapel, several years after she had declined a similar offer regarding a badger enclosure.

Judi told The Times she "wasn’t in good enough shape" to take him up on his first offer, which came just a few years after Michael's death, but she joked she didn't resist the founder of the British Wildlife Centre conservation centre when they finally collaborated on the squirrels.

"I wasn't even prepared to be ready for it... It was very gradual and grown-up. We got together, in a way, through the animals. It's just wonderful," she said.

The actress added that their relationship was "unexpected" but she never shies away from gushing about her partner, whom she insists on calling "my champ."

"[I] never expected, not for a minute, that there would be anybody else in my life," she told the Mirror's Notebook magazine.

Judi Dench poses at the 'Red Joan' portrait session during the 14th Zurich Film Festival on October 04, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland© Getty
The actress doesn't plan to get married again

"I've had many, many good friends, but it's been very unexpected to have somebody who is as caring as my partner David. Someone to be able to share things with ... I feel very lucky indeed."

Even after 13 years together, Judi has insisted that they don't plan to walk down the aisle or live together.

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"We talked about [marriage] but I think we are far better off as we are as we have got two separate houses," she told Good Housekeeping Magazine of their unconventional living arrangements. "And we are either in one or the other and we are four miles apart. He is not going to propose. No, no, no, no, no. Let's just pull ourselves together and be our age!"

The Oscar-winning actress continued to The Times: "We are much too independent. And he is very busy. He has a business to run."

Judi credits their similar sense of humour for their happy relationship. "To laugh with someone is terribly important. We laugh about everything," she said.

DISCOVER: Judi Dench discusses husband's heartbreaking death with David Tennant 

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