Queen Elizabeth II was the second longest-serving monarch in the world when she passed away at the age of 96. She did not only leave a mark on life in the United Kingdom but also on the film industry with her character and the royal family in general being a popular topic among filmmakers. From light-hearted comedies to serious dramas, here are some of the most memorable portrayals of the queen on the silver screen.
The Naked Gun (1988)
In the first installment of the popular “The Naked Gun” franchise, Lt. Frank Drebin is tasked with protecting Queen Elizabeth II (played by Jeannette) during her visit to Los Angeles. As a typical over-the-top 1980s action-comedy movie, the film is filled with silly fun, with Drebin getting in all kinds of trouble while trying to foil the plot to assassinate the queen. He even ends up on top of Her Majesty in an easily misinterpretable position after sliding down a banquet table.
The Queen (2006)
“The Queen” is a drama revolving around Princess Diana’s unfortunate early demise in 1997, and how the royal family’s initial indifference earned them fiery condemnation by the people. Queen Elizabeth II (played by Helen Mirren) believed that Diana’s death was a private matter, as she was no longer a part of the royal family, while newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair realized that the public had a different opinion. Blair attempts to help the queen through the crisis, telling her to make a public address in the wake of the princess’ death. Perhaps one of the most interesting moments of the film is when Elizabeth II tells Blair in the end that just as the quick shift in public opinion dragged the royal family into a crisis, it might as well happen to the prime minister himself. In real life, Blair resigned less than a year after the movie debuted in Venice.
The King’s Speech (2010)
In this biopic set well before Queen Elizabeth II became queen, her father, King George VI is trying to overcome a speech impediment that jeopardizes his public speeches. After many different therapies over many years, he meets Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, who is able to help him. Through hard work, the king learns to overcome his impediment and is able to deliver an impeccable address to the nation at the beginning of World War II. Here, young Princess Elizabeth (portrayed by Freya Wilson) appears relatively briefly, but it is an interesting appearance, reminding viewers that even a queen whose reign lasted some 70 years was also once a playful child.
The Crown (2016-)
With four seasons already out, and a fifth on the way, The Crown is one of the most critically-acclaimed portrayals (IMDb rating: 8.7) of life in the royal family. The series takes us from the early days of Queen Elizabeth II’s (played by Claire Foy in seasons one and two, and Olivia Colman in seasons three and four) reign right until the beginning of the 1990s. Apart from the delicate family issues between the queen and her husband as well as her children, The Crown is also excellent at portraying the queen’s relationship with her prime ministers from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher.
It is 1991 and a fairytale is nearing its end. The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles is falling apart when the “People’s Princess” arrives at the royal family’s Sandringham estate for the Christmas season. The film follows Diana’s mental struggle throughout the holidays at Queen Elizabeth II’s (Stella Gonet) estate, which culminates in her driving off to London with her young sons. The queen herself is not at the forefront throughout the movie, yet her looming presence is always felt as a physical embodiment of a bygone era with its old traditions, the very thing that feels like an enormous weight on Diana’s shoulders.
(Cover credit: IMDb)