The Queen On Screen: Movies, Shows And Documentaries Down The Decades
Queen Elizabeth came to life in several fictional films and shows, and the many documentaries capturing her seven-decade reign.
Ever the enigmatic monarch who rarely let on the person behind the public persona, Queen Elizabeth came to life in the barely disguised fictional films and shows, and the many documentaries capturing her seven-decade reign.
Here is a look at the Queen on screen, the real and the reel:
The four seasons of the hit Peter Morgan-created show, which started in 2016 on streaming service Netflix, is a close look at the Queen’s life and times, both public and personal. The first two seasons of the series featured Claire Foy as Elizabeth. beginning from her wedding to Prince Philip (Matt Smith) and her ascendency to the throne after the demise of her father King George VI.
Foy won the Primetime Emmy for best lead actress in 2018.
Oscar winner Olivia Colman portrayed the Queen for the third and fourth season that showcased her testy working relationship with former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher and the troubling personal life of her sister Margaret as well as her son Prince Charles' marriage to Prince Diana.
The show returns this November with a fifth season which will see Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth. It will end with the sixth season, which is currently under production.
“THE QUEEN” (2006)
A decade before Morgan created 'The Crown', the writer took a deep dive into one of the most controversial chapters of the UK monarchy with the 2006 movie directed by Stephen Frears and starring veteran actor Helen Mirren as the monarch. The movie depicted the events following the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in 1997 and the royals’ initial response to the tragedy.
Mirren was lauded for her portrayal of the Queen and won many accolades, including the Academy Award for best actress.
“WALKING THE DOGS” (2012)
Critically-acclaimed actor Emma Thompson played the Queen in this 2012 British TV movie, about the infamous Buckingham Palace break-in by Michael Fagan in 1982.
'A ROYAL NIGHT OUT” (2015)
Canadian actor Sarah Gadon played a young Princess Elizabeth in the romantic-comedy. The movie followed Elizabeth, who, with younger sister Princess Margaret (Bel Powley), ventures out of Buckingham Palace to enjoy the VE Day (Victory in Europe) celebrations.
Movies centred on various other royals also featured Elizabeth.
“THE KING’S SPEECH” (2010)
The Tom Hooper directorial mainly focused on Queen Elizabeth's father King George VI's (Colin Firth) speech struggles and his friendship with Lionel Logue, an Australian speech and language therapist.
Child artist Freya Wilson played Queen Elizabeth as a child in the movie.
“CHURCHILL: THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS' (2004)
The parody film featured Neve Campbell as Queen Elizabeth who falls for Winston Churchill (Christian Slater) during World War II.
Besides the many films and shows, the queen’s story was also explored through various documentaries down the decades.
“ROYAL FAMILY” (1969)
The British TV documentary about the family of Queen Elizabeth was watched by over 30 million people when it aired June 21, 1969.
The 90-minute documentary covered a year in the Queen's life and gave an insight into the lives of the royal family members as well as the role of the monarchy in the 20th century. It is said the Queen had later banned the documentary from ever being screened again on British television.
“THE MAJESTIC LIFE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II” (2012)
Released on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's 60th year on the throne, the film featured rare archival footage, from the death of her father King George VI, to the marriage of her grandson Prince William.
“ELIZABETH AND MARGARET: LOVE AND ROYALTY” (2020)
An intimate look into the complex relationship between the Queen and her younger sister, Princess Margaret.
“ELIZABETH: A PORTRAIT IN PARIS” (2022)
Released ahead of the 70th anniversary jubilee, the documentary was directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Mitchell before his death in September 2021.
Queen Elizabeth herself featured in a commercial for the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. British star Daniel Craig reprised his iconic role of 007 spy James Bond in the commercial, which was directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle. The commercial showed Bond escorting the Queen from Buckingham Palace to the Olympics in a helicopter.
The British monarch had also appeared in a short film during her platinum jubilee celebrations. In the over two-minute long video, shot inside the Buckingham Palace, she performed a scene alongside Paddington Bear, the fictional character in children's literature which was voiced by Ben Whishsaw. The two had discussed their love for marmalade sandwiches over a cup of tea.
On Friday, the official Twitter handle of the Paddington Bear paid a tribute to the late monarch. 'Thank you, Ma’am, for everything,” the post read.