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Judi Dench Met David Mills after Being a Widow for 9 Years — She Never Expected to Find Love Again

Titi Dokubo
Apr 14, 2022
01:30 P.M.
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Academy Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench may have won countless hearts with her impressive roles in iconic movies, but the English star is no stranger to tragedy.


After becoming a widow, she never thought she would find love again. Nine years later, she met David Mills, and their relationship quickly progressed.

However, the couple has no plans to live together, as they prefer their separate spaces. Here's a look into the love life of Judi Dench.

Judi Dench with Michael Williams at the BAFTA Awards in London in March 1982 [left], Dame Judi Dench and David Mills at the Laurence Olivier Awards on April 13, 2014, in London [right] | Source: Getty Images


After ending her relationship with another English actor, Leonard Rossiter, Judi Dench first met her British actor husband, Michael Williams. However, their relationship did not start right away.

Nine years after their first meeting, after Dench finished playing the lead in "Twelfth Night," their chemistry started to develop in the Dirty Duck pub in Stratford.

When Dench left for Australia on tour, Williams followed her, and in no time, he proposed to her, but she delayed accepting his marriage proposal.

Judi Dench and Michael Williams in London on October 23, 1970 | Source: Getty Images



When Williams first proposed to Dench, she felt it was too romantic because they were in Australia with the sea and sand in the sun. She told him she could not trust any proposal in pleasant weather.

However, Dench told Williams to ask her again when they were at Battersea, and it was raining, and then she would think about it. When he asked her a second time, she accepted his proposal.

Judi Dench and Michael Williams on their wedding day | Source: Getty Images


In 1971, the couple married, and with Dench being a Quaker and Williams being a Catholic, she received a special dispensation to marry in St Mary's Catholic Church.

They were married for almost three decades, and the press called their marriage one of the most endearing and enduring marriages for couples in showbusiness.

Judi Dench and Michael Williams at the BAFTA Awards in London in March 1982 | Source: Getty Images



On September 24, 1972, Dench and Williams welcomed their only daughter, Finty Williams. The arrival of her daughter made Dench think about her career.

She started thinking about quitting show business and taking a step back from her career in Hollywood. Dench was ready to sacrifice her job to be around for her daughter.

Having had her first child when she was 37, Dench did not have any more children, which became her biggest regret. Even when she and Williams tried to adopt, the officials denied them because they were too old and had different religious backgrounds.


Judi Dench in the hospital with Michael Williams and their daughter Finty Williams | Source: Getty Images

In 1981, Williams and Dench starred alongside each other in the British situation comedy "A Fine Romance." They both played the lead roles in the unlikely romance story.


In 1995, when Dench took the role of M in the James Bond franchise, she had a very personal reason for doing so. Her husband had persuaded her to accept the role because he longed to live with a Bond girl. The actress, who never wanted the part, reprised her role seven more times after "GoldenEye."

Judi Dench, Michael Williams, and their daughter Finty Williams at the world gala premiere of "Tomorrow Never Dies" on December 9, 1997, in London | Source: Getty Images



In 1999, when Williams spoke about their marriage, he said he knew his talents did not match Dench's but never felt inferior because there were some things he could better than her.

In the summer of 1999, Williams found out that he had lung cancer, and once Dench got the news, she pulled out of the Broadway show she was on and rushed to his side. 

On January 11, 2001, the versatile actor awarded the Papal knighthood in November 2000 died at 65, three weeks before their 30th wedding anniversary.

Judi Dench at the gala concert "Unite for the Future" | Source: Getty Images



After losing her husband, Dench revealed that grief changes a person completely. For Dench, she felt like an enormous chasm appeared in front of her.

Dench has never gotten used to the loss as she said that when she hears the doors open, she thinks her husband, the most unselfish man, had wandered into the house. 

Also, with the loss of her husband, Dench began to work harder. Dealing with the grief gave Dench enormous energy that she used up to work. 

Judi Dench at the 73rd Annual Academy Awards | Source: Getty Images


In 2011, when Dench found love in the arms of the conservationist David Mills, she said,

"I wasn't even prepared to be ready for it... It was very gradual and grown-up."

Dench and Mills first met at the British Wildlife Centre in 2010 when she did a program on trees. He was in the office when she got in, and they chatted.

Judi Dench as Ophelia at Michael Benthall's production of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" on September 15, 1957 | Source: Getty Images


They became friends, and their relationship developed slowly. Shortly after, Dench was grateful to have found a 'jolly nice friend' in Mills.

However, Dench was unhappy to call him her 'partner' because she hated the word. For her, a 'partner' has something to do with dancing and not in a relationship.

At the start of their relationship, Mills revealed that Dench's red-carpet world was daunting because it was a far cry from the life he knew. However, he has met a lot of exciting people.

Judi Dench and David Mills at the world premiere of "Murder On The Orient Express" on November 2, 2017 | Source: Getty Images



Dench and Mills have had a long relationship because they have the same sense of humor and are passionate about wildlife, theatre, and films.

They can go into one another's worlds. Mills and Dench both appreciate their relationship, which they see as a calm refuge, and their mutual understanding of the environment continues to grow.

Also, they love their relationship arrangement as it suits them to live four miles apart. However, the couple, who were both completely surprised that what they have would develop later in life, make time to see one another.


Judi Dench and David Mills at the Sandringham Flower Show on July 30, 2014 | Source: Getty Images

Despite the distance between them, the couple has no plans to live together. Judi revealed that they are much too independent, and Mills is very busy with the business he has to run.


Also, having two houses gives them space as she said that they are too old to get married. They both feel lucky enough to have found love and do not want to change things.

Judi Dench at the "No Time To Die" world premiere on September 28, 2021 | Source: Getty Images

They spend time joking a lot and doing things other ordinary people do like watching television, going to the local cinema, and entertaining with friends.

Dench, who suspects that she will never get over her late husband, believes he occasionally visits her at their home.