Looking at the Life of Queen Elizabeth II Through Television and Film
The world was thrown into mourning on Thursday, September 8, 2022 when it was announced via the Royal Family that Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, “died peacefully at Balmoral.” She was 96 years old and reigned for 70 years and 214 days. She goes down in the books as the longest reigning British monarch and the second-longest reigning monarch in world history. She is also recorded as the longest-serving female head of state in world history.
She was the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which Nigeria is a member, and was responsible for making the world organization more active and responsive to social and political issues like racism, human rights, and gender equality. “The Commonwealth has always been a priority to the Queen, which is a key reason as to why it still survives. She has visited countries in the Commonwealth throughout her reign until relatively recently- her last trip abroad was to Malta in 2015 for the Head of Government meeting. She has always reminded people of the importance of the Commonwealth, in her Christmas address or in her Commonwealth Day message,” said UK expert, Craig Prescott to news network, France 24.
No monarch has graced the big screen and small screen more times than Queen Elizabeth II. Animation, comedies, documentaries, musicals, dramas, you name it, she has either been featured in person or played by talented women in Hollywood. Actresses such as Claire Foy, Dame Helen Mirren, and Sarah Gadon have portrayed the head of state, with some nominated and winning Academy Awards and Emmys for their role.
TNR has compiled a list of films and TV shows to honor and celebrate the life of the Queen.
‘The Crown’ (2016)
Foy, Olivia Colman, and Imelda Staunton portray Queen Elizabeth II at different stages in her life in this hit series that has won a total of 21 Emmys. It premiered on Netflix in November 2016 and centres around the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It highlights pivotal moments in British monarchial history like her marriage to Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, the 1956 Suez Crisis, and Prince Charles’s marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales. Although criticized for its “historical inaccuracies,” the show is brilliant in terms of scriptwriting, cinematography, and powerful performances by the cast members. It is slated for a six-season run, but four seasons have premiered on Netflix so far.
‘The Queen’ (2006)
British screenwriter and playwright, Peter Morgan who coincidentally is the creative mind behind “The Crown” tells the story of the Queen following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. The film rekindled people’s desire for answers as to what really happened to the “People’s Princess” and was so influential that the Queen herself invited Mirren, who portrayed her, to dinner at Buckingham Palace. “The Queen” was met with critical acclaim long before it hit theatres and earned Mirren her first Academy Award in 2007.
‘Bons Baisers de Hong Kong’ (1975)
The French film, English translation being From Hong Kong with Love, is an exaggerated James Bond parody that follows field agents, Les Charlots, and their less than stellar attempts to rescue Queen Elizabeth II from the hands of her American kidnappers. French actress, Huguette Funfrock, who by the way can pass as the Queen’s doppelganger, played her in this slapstick comedy.
‘The King’s Speech’ (2010)
This is arguably the most successful film featuring Her Majesty. It received twelve nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards and scored in four categories, including a Best Director win for Tom Hooper. The film highlights Queen Elizabeth’s early years of being a Princess in Buckingham Palace with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth serving as the ruling monarchs. The plot however doesn’t revolve around her; it revolves around her father’s speech impediment and how he was able to gain more confidence via a speech therapist hired by her mother. Freya Wilson potrayed the young Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Playhouse Presents: Walking the Dogs’ (2012)
This television drama, commissioned by Sky Drama, is based on a true-life incident that involved the Queen. Intruder, Michael Fagan, broke into the Queen’s bedroom in 1982 after her personal guard took her dogs out for a walk. Fagan stole her wine, had a long conversation with her in the middle of the night, and was arrested and charged with theft of wine. Emma Thompson played the Queen and Eddie Marsan played Fagan.
‘Queen Elizabeth II: Above All Else’ (2022)
The recent documentary directed by Amber Rondell follows the matriarch’s reign of over six decades through archival footage and commentary from those who knew her and those who’ve dedicated most of their lives to studying her. At 21 years old, she pledged her life to the service of the crown, ascended the throne at 25 and has witnessed quite a number of world changes. Despite her public and private struggles, she has always dedicated her life to the advancement of her people and beyond.
‘The BFG’ (1989)
Angela Thorne voiced Queen Elizabeth II. She makes a cameo appearance towards the end of the animation of the Roald Dahl classic by offering the BFG (Big, Friendly, Giant), Sophie, and the other orphans a chance to stay at Buckingham Palace. She also gifts the BFG with a castle of his own.
‘The 2012 Olympic Games’
To commemorate the annual sporting event being hosted in London, the Queen herself (and her beloved dogs) appeared in a short film that starred Daniel Craig as his iconic character, James Bond. They tour the city of London in a helicopter and the Queen waves at her eager royal subjects before making a touch down at the London Stadium via a parachute. She received a standing ovation for her grand entrance.
When the Queen’s death was announced, Craig released a public statement expressing his grief over the loss.
“I, like so many, was deeply saddened by the news today and my thoughts are with the royal family, those she loved, and all those who loved her. She leaves an incomparable legacy and will be profoundly missed.”
‘Diana: The Musical’ (2021)
The two-act musical sees Judy Kay playing the Queen in the retelling of the life story of Princess Diana and the paparazzi fanfare surrounding her. The production was review bombed by critics for its unoriginality and lack of substance, but it’s one of the few musicals out there that features a portrayal of Her Majesty.
‘Elizabeth & Margaret: Love and Loyalty’ (2020)
The Netflix documentary explores the relationship between the most famous sisters of the 20th century- Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. One ascends the throne at a young age and busies herself with her royal duties, while the other parties around the world in Dior dresses and Jimmy Choo pumps. Elizabeth and Margaret are nothing alike but it’s their distinct personalities that draw them together and help them manage life in the public eye.
Princess Margaret passed away in 2002 due to a stroke. She was 71 years old.