Elizabeth II: 70 years of reign that inspired cinema and television

5:38 p.m., September 9, 2022, amended to 6:47 p.m., September 9, 2022

There are people who become historic during their lifetime. Queen Elizabeth II was one of them. Many have tried to unravel her mystery, few have managed to lift part of the veil with which she surrounded her private life. Sometimes adored, sometimes derided, his iconic figure has fueled the creation of an impressive number of film productions. The JDD reviews some of the best of them and the performances of actresses who one day had the honor of embodying it.

Helen Mirren in The Queen

Helen Mirren remains to this day one of the most essential interpreters of the late queen. In The Queen (2006), a film directed by Stephen Frears, the actress leaves her immutable role of inspector in the series Suspect number 1 to take the queen’s clothes. The film takes place in 1997, the day after the death of Lady Di. Throughout the scenario, we discover a conservative monarch, inflexible and lucid about the period of crisis that the monarchy is going through. It is the first critical work with regard to the queen. A performance that will earn Helen Mirren the Oscar for Best Actress.

Jeannette Charles: the almost official double

Far from being as well known, Jeannette Charles has nevertheless acquired a role of almost official interpreter of the monarch. It is the actress who has most often embodied her in the cinema.

It is true that the two women share a disturbing resemblance. In 1972, the Royal Academy exhibited a painting by Jane Thornhill, an artist who offered portraits to members of her clientele at the time. Surprised to see the queen in such a painting, the Academy contacted Buckingham Palace. The answer is clear: the queen has never participated in such a project. It was in fact Jeannette Charles who had had the idea of ​​giving this present to her husband for his birthday. The press, fond of the anecdote, seized on the affair. Jeannette Charles becomes a star.

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Approached by an agent, she was given roles in many films and series such as hello holidays 2 Where Austin Powers: Goldmember. His most notable performance is undoubtedly his role in Is there a cop to save the queen?, a film by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio. The story takes place in Australia where Elizabeth II is on an official visit. Clumsy Lieutenant Frank Drebin tries at all costs to protect her from an assassination attempt. Far from formal rigor, the comedy makes fun of the figure of the monarch, thus giving rise to one of its most irreverent interpretations.

three faces in The Crown

The Netflix series by Peter Morgan, although quite recent, is undoubtedly one of the most famous productions on Elizabeth II. We follow his life, his hesitations and his sorrows from his coronation to the present day. The series is remarkably documented. Sets, costumes, actors… To be as faithful as possible, the production puts the means. It is, to date, the most expensive series to produce in the world. The cost of each episode is estimated at more than 5 million euros. One of the most critically acclaimed too: it has already won no less than 11 Grammy awards since its launch in 2016.

Over the seasons, three actresses lend their faces to the monarch (Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton). We go behind the scenes of the palace to follow the sulphurous relations between the different members of the royal family.

Read also – Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher, two women in power with strained relations in the 1980s

An exceptional honour, Peter Morgan received compliments from Queen Elizabeth herself. The latter confessed to the British press to have devoured the first episodes of the series with her son Edward and her daughter-in-law Sophie, both fans of the series.

Elizabeth II in popular culture

Elizabeth II has also had a prominent place in popular culture. She appeared in no less than five episodes of simpsons and in many animated films such as Minions Where Cars 2 where she is depicted in the original form of a talking car.

But the presence of the queen on the big screen is not limited to interpretations, however. The Queen herself has made appearances there. In June 2022, she shot a video where she shared a cup of tea with the iconic Paddington Bear at Buckingham Palace. The most noticed is undoubtedly that of 2012: it caused a sensation by appearing, on the occasion of the launch of the London Olympics, in a clip alongside Daniel Craig. Under the bewildered eyes of the spectators, it stages a parachute jump from the royal helicopter with the James Bond actor. A scene full of self-mockery which proves that at 96 years old, Elizabeth II remained, in the cinema, her best parody.

Elizabeth II: 70 years of reign that inspired cinema and television