The 8 best on-screen portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II

State funeral was held at Westminster Abbey as the world bid farewell to one of the longest-serving monarchs in history

Louis Chilton
Tuesday 20 September 2022 08:58 BST
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Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest on Monday 19 September at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The history-making monarch, who died aged 96 on Thursday 8 September, ruled for 70 years and oversaw significant social and political change.

Directors and screenwriters have therefore had plenty of material to work from when it comes to depicting her in TV and film.

From Oscar-winning biopics to TV documentaries, here’s a handful of the best portrayals of Her Majesty.

The Queen

Helen Mirren’s acting career is about as regal as they come; she’s played queens on many occasions, including Elizabeth II multiple times. The most famous instance came in this 2006 biopic, for which Mirren won the Best Actress Oscar.

The Majestic Life of Queen Elizabeth II

This feature-length documentary blends archival footage and “expert interviews” to retell the life of our monarch, following Elizabeth’s story from childhood to her long and illustrious reign.

Prince Philip: An Extraordinary Life

Another TV movie, listed under Netflix’s “sentimental” category, focuses on the life of the late Prince Philip. Naturally, there’s plenty about the Queen in there too; her close personal bond with Philip is surely well-known to any devotees of the royals out there.

Helena Bonham-Carter and Colin Firth in ‘The King’s Speech' (Universal)

The King’s Speech

Another Oscar-winning movie, 2010’s The King’s Speech focuses primarily on King George VI. For any fans of the royal family out there, it’s surely a treat: one of the best royal-themed films there’s been in the last couple of decades. Elizabeth does in fact feature in the film, too, albeit as a child, played by Freya Wilson.

Elizabeth & Margaret: Love & Loyalty

This documentary looks at the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Margaret. It’s a side of the monarch that some viewers may be less familiar with – though this might be a hard sell for anyone who’s not seriously interested in the interpersonal dynamics of the Windsor family.

The Royal House of Windsor

This serialised documentary has a bit of a broader scope than some of the other docs on this list; the past 100 years of the royal family are charted across the course of six episodes, with the tone taking on something more like an investigative stance.

Matt Smith as Philip with Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth in ‘The Crown’ (Netflix)

The Crown

One of the most (surprisingly) controversial depictions of Queen Elizabeth ever committed to film, The Crown is one of the jewels of Netflix’s tiara. A handsomely made series spanning more or less Elizabeth’s entire life, The Crown was at the centre of a PR blizzard last season, with critics arguing that it had deviated troublingly from historical fact. Nonetheless, as royal dramas go, this is certainly a winner – smart, glossy, and a lot shrewder than it could have been.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

If you’re sick and tired of the same old starchy royal dramas, it might be worth dipping into David Zucker’s daffy 1988 comedy, which starred Leslie Nielsen as an incompetent police detective out to foil a plot to assassinate the queen. Elizabeth is played ably by Jeannette Charles – the sight of her attending a baseball game remains one of cinema’s most amusing spins on the monarch.

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