From the Sex Pistols to The Simpsons, from The Crown to the James Bond films, the instantly recognizable image of Queen Elizabeth II has been used in popular culture throughout her reign. Some did it with tenderness, others scratched it, but Her Majesty’s omnipresence in art, music and cinema underlined the important place she occupied in popular imagery.
“God Save The Queen”
The cover of the Sex Pistols’ 1977 single ‘God Save The Queen’, with the queen’s face, eyes and mouth hidden beneath the title and band name, is one of the movement’s best-known images. punk… but also of Elizabeth II.
The Queen posed for more than 175 portraits during her reign. Artists such as Cecil Beaton, Lucien Freud and Annie Leibovitz depicted her in her finest attire, at work or with her family. But the best known are undoubtedly those made by the pop art pope, Andy Warhol, in 1985, as part of a series on the queens reigning at the time. The American artist used an official photograph that he personalized, as he had also done for Marilyn Monroe.
Seen on TV
Instantly recognizable with her brightly colored outfits, the Queen has been a cartoon character and has also featured in TV shows and movies. Her Majesty has thus appeared several times in the American series “The Simpsons”, notably in an episode where the main character, Homer, crashes into his carriage at Buckingham Palace.
In the children’s cartoon “Peppa Pig”, the monarch jumps in puddles of mud. His character also appears in the films “The Minions” (2015), “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002) or in “Is there a cop to save the queen?” (1988), where she is played by Jeanette Charles, her most famous British look-alike.
In the intimacy
While the Queen has rarely granted interviews, her life has been featured in films, plays and TV shows. In “The King’s Speech” (2010), an Oscar-winning film about her father King George VI’s fight to overcome his stutter, we see her as a child, while in “The Queen” (2006), Elizabeth II, played by Helen Mirren, faces the wrath of her subjects after the 1997 death of her stepdaughter, Princess Diana. But it was Netflix’s hit series ‘The Crown’ that detailed the Queen’s life and her relationship with her husband Philip in greater detail, featuring domestic disputes, scandals and political crises.
In 2016, Elizabeth II also gave the reply to her grandson Prince Harry, in a video featuring former US President Barack Obama, to promote the Invictus Games, an international event created by Harry for wounded soldiers, at the image of Olympic games.
After years of having her image hijacked, the Queen herself took the lead in 2012 by taking part in a skit at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. We see her surrounded by her beloved corgis at Buckingham Palace where she receives James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. “Good evening, Mr Bond”, she said to him, before the couple pretended to get into a helicopter, fly over London and finally parachute into the Olympic stadium.
“The Good Big Giant”, film by Steven Spielberg (2016)
Even Steven Spielberg will have slipped the character of the Queen of England into one of his films… That said, it was not his idea: The Good Big Giant (or The BGG) is an adaptation of a novel by Roald Dahl ( Charlie and the chocolate factory). Elizabeth II offers a salutary intervention in this pretty tale for young people.
“Johnny English”, film by Peter Howitt (2003)
Another comedy involving the Queen of England and the fate of the monarchy, Johnny English, a parody of James Bond released in 2003. Who better than Rowan Atkinson, the interpreter of Mr Bean, could embark on this adventure? In this totally burlesque spy film, the Queen of England is the victim of blackmail on the background of the theft of the crown jewels (definitely very coveted, both in fiction and in real life).
The queen had reserved a surprise for her subjects for the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of her reign, during the platinum jubilee: she had shot a short video where we see her having tea with Paddington bear, a clumsy icon of children’s literature British. She then beat time with a silver spoon on her porcelain cup, synchronized with the opening of a giant concert which was opening in front of Buckingham Palace.
Elizabeth II: Films and series featuring the character of the queen