Mrs May smiled as she described the encounter with the late Queen - well-known for her mischievous sense of humour - to MPs who have gathered in Parliament for tributes to the monarch.
“Her Majesty loved the countryside, and she was down to earth and a woman of common sense,” recalled the Maidenhead MP.
“I remember one picnic at Balmoral, which was taking place in one of the bothies on the estate. The hampers came from the castle, and we all mucked in to put the food and drink out on the table.
“I picked up some cheese, put it on a plate and was transferring it to the table. The cheese fell on the floor. I had a split-second decision to make.”
Mrs May paused as MPs burst into laughter, before adding: “I picked up the cheese, put it on the plate and put it on the table. I turned round to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen.
“I looked at her. She looked at me and she just smiled. And the cheese remained on the table.”
HM Queen II Corgis
The Conservative former prime minister described Queen Elizabeth II as “quite simply the most remarkable person I have ever met”.
During her tribute in the Commons, she also recounted her weekly audiences with the monarch during her time as prime minister.
She said: “Across the nations of the world, for so many people, meeting Queen Elizabeth simply made their day and for many will be the memory of their life.
“Of course, for those of us who had the honour to serve as one of her prime ministers, those meetings were more frequent with the weekly audiences.
“These were not meetings with a high and mighty monarch, but a conversation with a woman of experience and knowledge and immense wisdom. They were also the one meeting I went to, which I knew it would not be briefed out to the media.”
This comment too was met with gales of laughter from MPs, before Mrs May added: “What made those audiences so special was the understanding the Queen had of issues which came from the work she put into her red boxes, combined with her years of experience.”