Dame Judi Dench has revealed that she never expected to find love again after the death of her husband Michael Williams in 2001. But after four years of being in a relationship with conservationist David Mills, the veteran actress has finally decided to open up about her partner.
Admitting that the romance took her by surprise, Judi said that the thought of meeting someone special hadn't occurred to her, "not for a single second".
"I wasn't even prepared to be ready for it," she told The Times. "It was very, very gradual and grown up. We got together, in a way, through the animals. It's just wonderful."
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Her romance with David Mills took her by surprise, said Dame Judi Dench
The Bond star, who lives "just a few fields away" from her boyfriend David, first struck up a relationship with the farmer in 2010. David had asked Judi to open the new badger enclosure at his British Wildlife Centre, but she initially declined saying she wasn't in good shape following her husband's death.
A few years later, Judi agreed to open the red squirrel enclosure and their relationship blossomed from there.
While the actress admitted that she is "terrible" on her own, she revealed that the couple don't even live together.
"We are much too independent," said Judi. "And he is very busy. He has a business to run. But he is so lovely, with a great sense of humour. Now it's absolutely wonderful because there's somebody who makes me laugh. Isn't it lovely?"
The seven-time Oscar nominee lost her actor husband of thirty years in 2001, following his battle with lung cancer.
Dame Judi Dench and farmer David Mills live 'just a few fields away' from each other
Judi, who will appear on screens next year in Tulip Fever and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has recently spoken about her plans to continue acting.
"It drives me absolutely spare when people say: 'Are you going to retire?' or 'Don't you think it's time you put your feet up?' or tell me my age," said the 80-year-old star.
"I loathe it," she added. "I don't want to be told that I'm too old to do something. I want to try it first and then, if I don't succeed, then I can be told I can't do it."
Judi was diagnosed with macular degeneration several years ago, a condition which could lead to blindness.