Julie Andrews on princesses, children's books and her memorable film roles

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews

(CBS) Even before she reigned over a fictional country in "The Princess Diaries," Julie Andrews cemented herself as a member of film royalty.

Now, the star of "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music" is celebrating all things princess with the release of her latest children's book, "The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl!"

Andrews, 76, is teaming up with Target and Disney to launch National Princess Week, which begins April 22 and is timed with the release of the book, part of the "Very Fairy Princess" series she co-writes with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton.

"I don't know if there's a child in the world that doesn't dream or hope maybe she's a princess, somewhere she could be, deep down," she told CBSNews.com.

The "Very Fairy Princess" books center around a little girl who believes she's a fairy princess because she feels she has a "certain sparkle" inside. But it's not just about the tiaras and gowns.

"Being a princess is not about looking beautiful, being elegant or anything surface-oriented," she explains. "It's what you feel inside, and about being generous and helpful and adventurous and creative."

That sentiment is something Andrews also sees in the "Princess Diaries" movies, which Disney is re-releasing on Blu-ray to mark the 10th anniversary of the first film.

Reflecting on the films, she said, "If you think about it, this is a young girl who grew into realizing the responsibilities of her life and what she would be taking on. Of course, she got to look glorious and wear a crown, [but] it's a far bigger thing than that."

Andrews played Queen Clarisse Renaldi of Genovia in "The Princess Diaries" and "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," and said she's still in touch with director Garry Marshall and actress Anne Hathaway, who played her granddaughter - the princess in the title - in both installments.

"I know Annie Hathaway very well," she said of her former co-star. "She's extremely generous and we are great friends and we love each other very much.

It's also no coincidence that National Princess Week falls during a milestone for a real-life princess - the April 29 wedding anniversary of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

"I think she's lovely," Andrews said of the former Kate Middleton. "I think she has a great deal of hard work ahead of her, if it's not here already. And she can be an enormous influence for good."

Though she's played so many memorable characters - the practically perfect Mary Poppins, Maria in "The Sound of Music - Andrews said it's hard for her to choose a favorite role.

"Each film brings about either a wonderful memory, or a wonderful relationship with a director - sometimes my husband [Blake Edwards, who died in 2010] - or the people that you're working with, or the location."

"'Poppins' was the first movie I ever made and was a huge learning experience, and I was in extremely kind and gentle hands that guided me all the way," she continued. "And 'The Sound of Music' because of what it was, and the theme and the beautiful music - very, very hard work but wonderful to do."

She also mentioned films she made with Edwards, like "That's Life!" and "Victor Victoria," as well as "The Princess Diaries" films.

Andrews has two more books coming out later this year  and is directing a musical based on her book "The Great American Mousical." She's also planning more books and said "there's always a titillating something waiting in the wings" in terms of films. Between those projects, lectures, traveling and writing, Andrews said she's "happily busy."

"Life is so full of things," she added, "I just wonder if I have enough time to do it all."

Andrews will also appear on "CBS This Morning" this Saturday.

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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