Elizabeth the queen movie

Table of Contents

The 8 Best Movies About the British Royal Family

While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have given the world a modern-day fairytale to watch unfold in real time, life behind palace walls has long been fodder for the big screen. As stars of the world’s longest-running soap opera dating back to King Henry VIII, members of the British royal family have been memorably depicted in many notable films. Here are the ones that are truly worth your time—ranked from good to great. And for more great royals coverage, don’t miss the 9 Words British Royals Never Say.

8 Diana (2013)

Naomi Watts does her best to channel Princess Diana during the last fateful summer of her life, but it’s hard to fully suspend disbelief when so many iconic images of the late princess are burned into our collective memory. Still, the doomed love story of Diana and Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) makes for a compelling melodrama. And for more compelling royal melodrama, here’s How Prince Harry Popped the Question to Meghan Markle.

7 The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Based on the best-selling novel, it’s the story of the lesser-known Boleyn sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson), who bedded King Henry VIII and lived, while Ann (Natalie Portman) fought to become queen and lost her head in the bargain. Both actresses excel in their roles. The Other Boleyn Girl is brutal depiction of the powerlessness of women during the Tudors’ reign.

6 Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (1997)

After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) struck up a passionate and scandalous friendship with a Scottish servant (Billy Connelly).

5 The King’s Speech (2010)

The Oscar-winning film tells the true story of how a reluctant Prince Albert (Colin Firth), in the wake of the scandalous abdication of his brother King Edward VIII, overcomes his speech impediment with the help of an Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) and support of his wife Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother (Helena Bonham Carter). Consider it required viewing as a prequel to Netflix’s The Crown.

4 The Duchess (2008)

Keira Knightly was born to star in British costume dramas and her performance as the Duchess of Devonshire is one of her best. The sumptuous period film chronicles the tragic tale of Georgiana Cavendish, the strong-willed, beautiful and stylish 18th century aristocrat who was beloved by everyone but her older husband who conducted a very public affair with another woman.

After Georgiana’s untimely death, the duke finally married his mistress. Sound like another ill-fated royal bride? History really does repeat itself. The duchess was the great-great-great grand aunt of Princess Diana.

3 Elizabeth (1998)

Cate Blanchett commands every scene in this film that chronicles the 45-year reign of Britain’s iconic first Queen Elizabeth, who bested all rivals, survived assassination attempts, battled the Pope, and spurned all suitors in order to rule a nation on her own. Imagine what she’d do today.

2 Young Victoria (2009)

When royal courtiers plotted to find eighteen year-old Queen Victoria a husband and decided her first cousin, Prince Albert, was the man for the job, they could not have known they were making a match that would become one of the most enduring love stories in British history. Emily Blunt shines as Victoria in this lavishly romantic period drama. Downton Abbey alert: it was written by series’ creator Julian Fellowes.

1 The Queen (2006)

This fascinating look at the first week in September 1997 that forever changed the British royal family begins with the Queen (an Oscar-winning performance by Helen Mirren) learning of Princess Diana’s death and ends with the funeral, which officially declared the end of the centuries-old tradition of the “stiff upper lip.” Interspersed with actual news footage, this Stephen Frears–directed film is the definitively dramatic chronicle of seven days the world will never forget.

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Come spring 2018, Lifetime will premiere its highly-anticipated movie Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, based on the real-life love story between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The film, which is almost as exciting as Harry and Meghan’s actual wedding in May, will join a growing list of movies Hollywood has made about the royals. Whether it’s the fashion, the romance, or the cheesy, OTT (and fictionalized) storylines, there’s something for everyone. Below, royal movie recommendations based on your mood or interest of the day. Grab your crown and popcorn.

1. If you love fashion: Elizabeth (1998)

Cate Blanchett shot to fame after starring in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, playing the title role of Elizabeth I, who assumed the throne following the death of Mary I, her half-sister. In between dodging high-ranking suitors suggested by her main advisor William Cecil, Elizabeth began a secret affair with a regular earl, Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). She also had access to an elaborate closet. Thanks to famed costume designer Alexandra Byrne (who’s been nominated for four Oscars for her work), Elizabeth’s 16th century style is front and center in the film.

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2. If you love D-R-A-M-A: The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Based on the wildly popular historical novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl stars Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as Anne and Mary Boleyn, respectively – two sisters who vied for the affections of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). There’s jealousy, betrayal, death stares, and gossip – and this all happens before an execution of one of the sisters. Care to guess which one?

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3. If you’re a history buff: The Queen (2006)

In the more than 20 years since Princess Diana’s death, experts and sources have offered several takes on what the royal family went through in the week that followed. Documentaries aside, there was The Queen, Stephen Frears’s film that chronicled that very week from Queen Elizabeth II’s perspective. (The script was written by Peter Morgan, who would later give the world The Crown.) Following its release, The Queen earned Helen Mirren a Best Actress Oscar and more importantly, a dinner invitation from the real Queen Elizabeth II. While Mirren was forced to decline due to a previous filming commitment, she would meet the Queen four years later at Buckingham Palace at a reception celebrating youth in the performing arts and again in 2014 at a reception for British film and theater actors and actresses.

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4. If you want romance: The Young Victoria (2009)

Falling in love as a royal isn’t really that much different than falling in love as a commoner. You just have more money and have to deal with other things like your own coronation. But everything else – the passion, the suspense, the excitement – they’re all there! In The Young Victoria, director Jean-Marc Valée (of Big Little Lies fame) explores the exhilarating courtship between Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) and her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend) as she gets used to her new role on the throne. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, served as one of the producers on the film, in case you needed a royal blessing.

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5. If you want a good cry: The King’s Speech (2010)

Whether it’s the commitment between The Queen Mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and King George VI (Colin Firth) or the bond between the King and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), every minute of this film is inspiring and moving. The buildup to the King’s final speech (in the film anyway) will keep you from doing anything else, so be sure to have a well-stocked snack pile nearby. On a related note: if you don’t cry during a Colin Firth movie, did you even watch it at all?

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6. If you love a good party: Elizabeth at 90: A Family Tribute (2016)

Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday in 2016 was basically a year-long celebration that included a new plaque; an official ticketed four-day extravaganza that included 900 horses and 1,500 performers; the annual Trooping the Colour; a street party along The Mall in London; and the release of BBC’s documentary, Elizabeth at 90. Clocking in at an appropriate 90 minutes, the documentary included never-before-seen footage of the royal family, interviews with Prince Harry, Prince William, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, and Prince Charles, who also served as narrator.

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7. If you need a feel-good movie: A Royal Night Out (2015)

Of all the “untold stories” of the royal family, this one will leave you smiling for days. Sarah Gadon, who most recently starred in Netflix’s Alias Grace, plays a young Princess Elizabeth, who ventures out of Buckingham Palace for one night (with permission from her dad, the King) to participate in the VE Day celebrations in 1945. Joining her is her sister, Princess Margaret (Bel Powley), and two chaperones, who are apparently really bad at their jobs.

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8. If you love Princess Diana: Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy (2017)

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, HBO offered a new documentary about the People’s Princess, told largely from the perspectives of her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. The brothers share their favorite memories of their mom, how Prince George and Princess Charlotte were introduced to the memory of their “Granny Diana,” and Diana’s final phone call with her children. Have tissues handy.

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9. If you love Camilla: Charles & Camilla: Whatever Love Means (2005)

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Fans of Camilla Parker Bowles should have no problem enjoying every second of ITV1’s fictionalized retelling of how she fell in love with Prince Charles in the early 1970s.

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10. If you love Grey’s Anatomy: Lifetime’s William & Kate: The Movie (2011)

Before Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot in the wedding of the century, Lifetime offered William & Kate: The Movie, one of two movies about Kate and William released that year. Hallmark released the other, but that one isn’t on this list because it did not star Camilla Luddington, who would land the role of Jo on Grey’s Anatomy one year later.

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11. If you thought The Crown needed more Wallis Simpson: W.E. (2011)

Fans of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor’s relationship might be divided by this depiction of their love story but there are still things to be grateful for in W.E.: (1) Madonna directed it; (2) Wallis Simpson has more than five lines; (3) Oscar Isaac is also in the movie.

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Bonus: If you’re obsessed with the idea of becoming a princess: The Princess Diaries (2001)

While this film is not about any particular member of the royal family, one should always find an excuse to watch The Princess Diaries and its sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

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Peggy Truong Entertainment Writer Peggy is Cosmopolitan.com’s entertainment writer, specializing in Leonardo DiCaprio, This Is Us, and the royals.
Index of Encyclopedia Entries:
Medieval Cosmology
Prices of Items in Medieval England
Edward II
Piers Gaveston
Thomas, Earl of Lancaster
Roger Mortimer, Earl of March
Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)
Edward III
Edward, Black Prince of Wales
Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
Edmund of Langley, Duke of York
Thomas of Woodstock, Gloucester
Richard of York, E. of Cambridge
Richard II
Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford
Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk
Ralph Neville, E. of Westmorland
Edmund Mortimer, 3. Earl of March
Roger Mortimer, 4. Earl of March
Edmund Mortimer, 5. Earl of March
Sir Henry Percy, “Harry Hotspur”
Owen Glendower
Henry IV
Edward, Duke of York
Henry V
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
John, Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
The Battle of Castillon, 1453
William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk
Thomas de Montacute, E. of Salisbury
Richard de Beauchamp, E. of Warwick
Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Cardinal Henry Beaufort
John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset
Catherine of Valois
Owen Tudor
Charles VII, King of France
Joan of Arc
Louis XI, King of France
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
The Wars of the Roses 1455-1485
Causes of the Wars of the Roses
The House of Lancaster
The House of York
The House of Beaufort
The House of Neville
The First Battle of St. Albans, 1455
The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459
The Rout of Ludford, 1459
The Battle of Northampton, 1460
The Battle of Wakefield, 1460
The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, 1461
The Second Battle of St. Albans, 1461
The Battle of Towton, 1461
The Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464
The Battle of Hexham, 1464
The Battle of Edgecote, 1469
The Battle of Barnet, 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury, 1471
The Treaty of Pecquigny, 1475
The Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485
The Battle of Stoke Field, 1487
Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York
Edward IV
Elizabeth Woodville
Richard Woodville, 1. Earl Rivers
Anthony Woodville, 2. Earl Rivers
Jane Shore
Edward V
Richard III
George, Duke of Clarence
Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
John Neville, Marquis of Montague
George Neville, Archbishop of York
John Beaufort, 1. Duke Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 2. Duke Somerset
Henry Beaufort, 3. Duke of Somerset
Edmund Beaufort, 4. Duke Somerset
Margaret Beaufort
Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond
Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke
Humphrey Stafford, D. of Buckingham
Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Thomas, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby
Archbishop Thomas Bourchier
Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex
John Mowbray, 3. Duke of Norfolk
John Mowbray, 4. Duke of Norfolk
John Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Henry Percy, 4. E. Northumberland
William, Lord Hastings
Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford
Thomas de Clifford, 8. Baron Clifford
John de Clifford, 9. Baron Clifford
John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester
Thomas Grey, 1. Marquis Dorset
Sir Andrew Trollop
Archbishop John Morton
Edward Plantagenet, E. of Warwick
John Talbot, 2. E. Shrewsbury
John Talbot, 3. E. Shrewsbury
John de la Pole, 2. Duke of Suffolk
John de la Pole, E. of Lincoln
Edmund de la Pole, E. of Suffolk
Richard de la Pole
Sir James Tyrell
Jack Cade’s Rebellion, 1450
Tudor Period
King Henry VII
Queen Elizabeth of York
Lambert Simnel
Perkin Warbeck
King Ferdinand II of Aragon
Queen Isabella of Castile
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
King Henry VIII
Queen Catherine of Aragon
Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Jane Seymour
Queen Anne of Cleves
Queen Catherine Howard
Queen Katherine Parr
King Edward VI
Queen Mary I
Queen Elizabeth I
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond
Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland
James IV, King of Scotland
The Battle of Flodden Field, 1513
James V, King of Scotland
Mary of Guise, Queen of Scotland
Mary Tudor, Queen of France
Louis XII, King of France
Francis I, King of France
The Battle of the Spurs, 1513
Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Eustace Chapuys, Imperial Ambassador
The Siege of Boulogne, 1544
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Thomas, Lord Audley
Thomas Wriothesley, E. Southampton
Sir Richard Rich
Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
John Russell, Earl of Bedford
Thomas Grey, 2. Marquis of Dorset
Henry Grey, D. of Suffolk

George Talbot, 4. E. Shrewsbury
Francis Talbot, 5. E. Shrewsbury
Henry Algernon Percy,
5th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Algernon Percy,
6th Earl of Northumberland
Ralph Neville, 4. E. Westmorland
Henry Neville, 5. E. Westmorland
William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester
Sir Francis Bryan
John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford
John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford
Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral
Edward Seymour, Protector Somerset
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Henry Pole, Lord Montague
Sir Geoffrey Pole
Thomas Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland
Henry Bourchier, 2. Earl of Essex
Henry Radcliffe, 2. Earl of Sussex
George Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon
Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter
William, Lord Paget
George Brooke, Lord Cobham
Sir Richard Southwell
Thomas Fiennes, 9th Lord Dacre
Lady Jane Grey
Sir Thomas Arundel
Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger
Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
Cardinal Reginald Pole
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester
Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London
Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London
John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester
John Aylmer, Bishop of London
Thomas Linacre
William Grocyn
Archbishop William Warham
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester
Edward Fox, Bishop of Hereford
Pope Julius II
Pope Leo X
Pope Clement VII
Pope Paul III
Pope Pius V
Pico della Mirandola
Desiderius Erasmus
Martin Bucer
Richard Pace
Christopher Saint-German
Thomas Tallis
Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent
Hans Holbein, the Younger
The Sweating Sickness
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536
Robert Aske
Lord Thomas Darcy
Sir Robert Constable
Oath of Supremacy
The Act of Supremacy, 1534
The Act of Succession, 1534
The Ten Articles, 1536
The Six Articles, 1539
The Second Statute of Repeal, 1555
The Act of Supremacy, 1559
Articles Touching Preachers, 1583
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Nicholas Bacon
Sir Thomas Bromley
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon
Sir Thomas Egerton, Viscount Brackley
Sir Francis Knollys
Katherine “Kat” Ashley
Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
George Talbot, 6. E. of Shrewsbury
Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury
Gilbert Talbot, 7. E. of Shrewsbury
Sir Henry Sidney
Sir Robert Sidney
Archbishop Matthew Parker
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Sir Christopher Hatton
Edward Courtenay, E. Devonshire
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Thomas Radcliffe, 3. Earl of Sussex
Henry Radcliffe, 4. Earl of Sussex
Robert Radcliffe, 5. Earl of Sussex
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
Henry Wriothesley, 2. Southampton
Henry Wriothesley, 3. Southampton
Charles Neville, 6. E. Westmorland
Thomas Percy, 7. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 8. E. Northumberland
Henry Percy, 9. E. Nothumberland
William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland
Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland
Henry FitzAlan, 12. Earl of Arundel
Thomas, Earl Arundell of Wardour
Edward Somerset, E. of Worcester
William Davison
Sir Walter Mildmay
Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Amyas Paulet
Gilbert Gifford
François, Duke of Alençon & Anjou
Mary, Queen of Scots
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell
Anthony Babington and the Babington Plot
John Knox
Philip II of Spain
The Spanish Armada, 1588
Sir Francis Drake
Sir John Hawkins
William Camden
Archbishop Whitgift
Martin Marprelate Controversy
John Penry (Martin Marprelate)
Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
John Dee, Alchemist
Philip Henslowe
Edward Alleyn
The Blackfriars Theatre
The Fortune Theatre
The Rose Theatre
The Swan Theatre
Children’s Companies
The Admiral’s Men
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men
Citizen Comedy
The Isle of Dogs, 1597
Common Law
Court of Common Pleas
Court of King’s Bench
Court of Star Chamber
Council of the North
Fleet Prison
Oyer and terminer
King James I of England
Anne of Denmark
Henry, Prince of Wales
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
Arabella Stuart, Lady Lennox
William Alabaster
Bishop Hall
Bishop Thomas Morton
Archbishop William Laud
John Selden
Lucy Harington, Countess of Bedford
Henry Lawes
King Charles I
Queen Henrietta Maria
King Charles II
King James II
Test Acts
Greenwich Palace
Hatfield House
Richmond Palace
Windsor Palace
Woodstock Manor
The Cinque Ports
Mermaid Tavern
Malmsey Wine
Great Fire of London, 1666
Merchant Taylors’ School
Westminster School
The Sanctuary at Westminster
Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII
Medieval English Drama
London in the time of Henry VII. MS. Roy. 16 F. ii.
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton’s Descriptio Angliae, 1579
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare’s time
Detail of Norden’s Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
Visscher’s Panoramic View of London, 1616. COLOR
c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London

The British Royals have been a fertile subject for movies since the dawn of cinema.

Now that we’ve finished watching the new season of Netflix’s The Crown, we’ve picked out 12 of the best ever films with a Royal family focus, listed here in alphabetical order:


The first of Australian actress Cate Blanchett’s two movies as the titular queen, this 1998 biographical film dramatises the early years of Queen Elizabeth I of England’s reign.

The young Protestant Elizabeth was crowned Queen upon the death of her Catholic half-sister Mary I in 1558.

The role won Blanchett a Golden Globe and a BAFTA in 1998 and Elizabeth received seven Oscar nominations.

Joseph Fiennes, Christopher Eccleston, John Gielgud, Geoffrey Rush and Richard Attenborough also star.

Time Out‘s review noted that “the film plays fast and loose with history,” but “rattles through dark, stony passions with some considerable panache.”

Elizabeth is available on Amazon.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Cate Blanchett reprised the role of Queen Elizabeth I in this 2007 sequel and was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age moves in to the latter part of the Queen’s reign, picking up the story in 1585 as King Philip II of Spain plots war with England and Elizabeth finds herself pressured to marry.

The film was again criticised for its historical inaccuracies, but the New York Observer described it as “rousingly entertaining.”

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is available on Amazon.

Henry V

Sir Kenneth Branagh was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director for his 1989 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play about King Henry V of England.

Starring Branagh as the titular King, Henry V also featured Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Brian Blessed and a young Christian Bale.

The New York Times praised Branagh’s Henry as having “psychological heft and intellectual weight,” while Variety enjoyed “a plethora of fine performances from some of the UK’s brightest talents.”

Henry V is available on Amazon.

The King’s Speech

Based on the stage play of the same name, The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper’s 2010 historical drama received 12 nominations at the Oscars, winning four awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.)

The King’s Speech sees Colin Firth’s King George VI work with an Australian speech and language therapist, played Geoffrey Rush, to cope with his stammer.

The Guardian described the movie as “richly enjoyable and handsomely produced” and “a massively confident crowd-pleaser.”

The King’s Speech is available on Amazon.

The Lion in Winter

Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn led the cast of this 1968 period drama, which won three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Hepburn.

Set at Christmas 1183, The Lion in Winter follows King Henry II’s plans to announce his successor to the throne.

A “humdinger of medieval powerplay” (The Times), the movie also features the film debuts of Sir Anthony Hopkins and future 007 actor Timothy Dalton.

The Lion in Winter is available on Amazon.

The Madness of King George

Adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play, this comedy-drama from 1994 brings to life the true story of King George III’s mental health struggles, set against the Regency Crisis of 1788–89.

The Madness of King George won the award for Outstanding British Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role for star Nigel Hawthorne at the BAFTAs.

Alongside Hawthorne, the cast also includes Helen Mirren, Ian Holm and Rupert Everett.

“The thrill of Hawthorne’s astounding performance is not something you want to miss,” said Rolling Stone.

The Madness of King George is available on Amazon.

Mary Queen of Scots

From the creator of Netflix’s House of Cards, this 2018 movie stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) as 16th Century queen Mary Stuart.

Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defied pressure to remarry, choosing instead to return to reclaim her rightful throne in her native Scotland, a decision which causes conflict with Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie.

Mary Queen of Scots also stars David Tennant, Guy Pearce and Downton Abbey‘s Brendan Coyle.

Mary Queen of Scots is available on Amazon.

Mrs Brown

This 1997 movie from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden tells the story of the relationship between the grieving Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her Scottish servant, John Brown, played by comedian Billy Connolly.

Variety described Mrs Brown as “part political intrigue, part family drama – and above all a passionate, if platonic, love story between two individuals who could not have been more different.”

Mrs Brown is available on Amazon.

The Other Boleyn Girl

Adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novel in 2008 by The Crown writer Peter Morgan, this historical romantic drama stars Natalie Portman as 16th Century aristocrat Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Scarlett Johansson plays her sister Mary, who was also one of Henry’s mistresses.

The Other Boleyn Girl was criticised for its distortion of historical fact, although critics were impressed by the American leads’ performance as the English sisters.

The Other Boleyn Girl is available on Amazon.

The Queen

With another script by The Crown creator Peter Morgan, this 2006 fictionalised drama depicts the British Royal Family’s reaction to the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II won her an Academy Award for Best Actress and the Prime Suspect star was even invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace by the Queen after its release.

Empire magazine’s review called The Queen “fascinating, funny, wicked and to the point.”

The Queen is available on Amazon.

Victoria & Abdul

Dame Judi Dench received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Mrs Brown and returned to the role of Queen Victoria two decades later in Victoria & Abdul.

The previously little-told true story centres around Victoria’s burgeoning friendship with her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim.

Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, The Crown), the movie is based Shrabani Basu’s book.

Empire magazine wrote that “Judi Dench has once more made this iconic figure engagingly human.”

Victoria & Abdul is available on Amazon.

The Young Victoria

Written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, this 2009 movie focuses on the early years and reign of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert.

Starring Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) and Rupert Friend (Homeland) as Victoria and Albert, the cast of The Young Victoria also boasts Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong and Jim Broadbent.

Time magazine’s review said “We may be looking at Victoria and Albert through rose-colored glasses, but this love story is a touching romantic confection.”

The Young Victoria is available on Amazon.

Take a look at our list of the best movies and TV series about Queen Victoria.

Netflix Confirms Third (and Final) Actress Playing Queen Elizabeth in The Crown — But With a Catch

(NEW YORK) — The Crown, Netflix’s hit drama series about the British royal family, will end earlier than expected and has revealed its next and last queen.

Show creator and showrunner Peter Morgan had said he expected to create six seasons, but now thinks five is the “perfect time and place to stop.”

Imelda Staunton has been tapped to be the last actress to play Queen Elizabeth II. She will take the crown in the fifth season from Olivia Colman, who, in turn, succeeded Claire Foy. “Imelda is an astonishing talent and will be a fantastic successor,” Morgan said in a statement Friday.

Staunton is an Olivier Award-winner whose films include Vera Drake, Nanny McPhee and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She played Lady Maud Bagshaw in the Downton Abbey movie.

The Crown has won a Golden Globe for best TV drama and both Foy and Colman have won best actress Globes in the royal role. Season three arrived on Netflix in December.

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‘Mary Queen of Scots’: Off with her head and to hell with the facts (spoilers)!


Saoirse Ronan plays Mary Queen of Scots in the eponymous film, but it’s Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth that may make you do a double take. USA TODAY


Spoiler alert! The following discusses the plot of the film “Mary Queen of Scots.” Stop reading now if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to know.

Few real-life clashes are more tailor-made for movie melodrama than the battle royal between two 16th-century queens, Elizabeth I of England and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who re-enact their bloody, sorry fates in “Mary Queen of Scots.”

As royal history fans know, it will not end well for Mary Stuart: She loses her head, and Elizabeth Tudor signed the death warrant.

This latest telling of the familiar story (now showing in New York and Los Angeles, expands to additional cities Dec. 21) is thoroughly compelling and as pro-Mary as previous films. This one, directed by Josie Rourke, stars three-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (as Mary) and Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (Elizabeth).

Will the movie get the seal of approval from historians? Probably not, but keep in mind it’s tough to pack a lot of history in two hours.

“History is written by the winners, and Mary was a loser, but she’s a winner insofar as her son ended up ruling,” says John Guy, author of “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart,” on which the film is based. “What I set out to do is get rid of the misconceptions and re-establish the story.”

Mary’s execution at age 44 sent her to instant immortality, never mind the arrogance that helped put her on the block that day in 1567.

By contrast, as described by historian Kate Williams in “The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots: Elizabeth I and Her Greatest Rival,” the news of Mary’s death sent Elizabeth to her bed in shock, fury and tears, shouting that she never meant the death warrant to be carried out.

Elizabeth had refused to name her heir almost to the very end. When she died at age 69 in 1603, she was succeeded by the obvious closest relative, Mary’s son, King James VI of Scotland, the distant ancestor of all the monarchs who came after, including Queen Elizabeth II.

So who achieved true immortality? Hapless, heedless, headless Mary? Or Elizabeth I, widely considered one of the greatest monarchs in history? Maybe both.

Mary’s accent is questionable: In the movie, it’s Scottish (Ronan is Irish). In fact, Mary probably spoke with a French accent. Mary became queen of Scotland shortly after her birth when her father King James V died. Her French mother shipped her to France when she was 5, where she later married the French heir. Then her husband died and she returned to Scotland at age 18, a fervent Catholic regarded with suspicion by Protestants.

Nobility wasn’t this diverse: The filmmakers hired a diverse cast: Elizabeth’s ambassador to Scotland is played by Adrian Lester (TV’s “Hustle”) and Bess of Hardwick, a famous English noblewoman of the era, is played by Anglo-Chinese actress Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”). But it’s safe to say there were few Africans or Asians in 16th-century England, let alone in the nobility.

Darnley was gay? Mary’s second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, thinks marrying Mary will make him King of Scotland; she foolishly allows him to think so. She discovers too late he is a dope, a drunk and a thoroughly bad dude, but the movie suggests he’s more a figure of ridicule than the monster he really was.

The movie also posits he was a homosexual, that Mary caught him with her personal musician/secretary, David Rizzio, and that she had to force Darnley to impregnate her. Guy insists a sexual relationship between Darnley and Rizzio is “real history” and that prudish Victorians left it out of the record. “We’re not breaking new ground here,” adds screenwriter Beau Willimon.

It’s irrelevant to what came later, including the murders of Rizzio and Darnley. Mary was blamed for the latter, which started the series of events that led to her forced abdication and her fateful flight to England to seek safety with Elizabeth, who imprisoned her as a threat to her throne, given Mary’s constant carping that the English queen was illegitimate.

“What the Scottish nobles wanted to do was get a woman, especially a Catholic woman, out of power,” Willimon says. “They were almost swiftboating her.”

Mary’s third husband wasn’t a good guy, either: James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, raped Mary and forced her to marry him. But he’s depicted as almost incidental instead of the villain he actually was.

John Knox and the “lock her up” chorus: Another villain who tormented Mary was the fiery preacher (David Tenant) who led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. He hated Catholics, the pope, and female sovereigns like Mary. The movie shows Knox ranting about Mary during a toxic sermon, whipping up a crowd chanting “Death to her!” Or was it “Lock her up!”?

Signing the death warrant: It did not take place with Elizabeth surrounded by a dozen male advisers. In fact, she signed it casually among other papers, and later claimed she thought the execution would not be carried out. She resisted for years executing a fellow female monarch.

The two queens never met: The climactic scene has Elizabeth and Mary furtively meeting in a laundry shed, the two of them veiled from each other by sheer cloth hanging to dry. It’s a visual way of acknowledging this meeting never happened – but wouldn’t it have been epic if it had?

Documents show the two queens came very close to striking a deal for their peaceful co-existence, and the narrative momentum demands the queens share a screen. “The point of any sort of drama is to capture the true essence of characters, and sometimes that means departing from historical truth,” Willimon says.

Mary shoves away the cloth and confronts Elizabeth, snarling her contempt for her cousin to her face. It’s a fatal mistake but it didn’t quite happen in this way. To the end, Mary remained obdurate in her imagined superiority to Elizabeth – a delusion that helped seal her fate.

A final irony about the queens who never met: In 1612, King James had his mother exhumed and reburied her in Westminster Abbey in a tomb of white marble only a few feet away from the tomb of Elizabeth, Williams writes in her book. “Conquered, she was unconquerable,” was inscribed on Mary’s tomb.

“A meeting with Elizabeth had been Mary’s greatest desire for so much of her life. Finally, in Westminster Abbey, she achieved her wish.”

Whether it’s turning the clock back in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” or giving us “Suicide Squad” goals as Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie has made her Hollywood mark in style. Let’s take a look at some of the Aussie actress’ best looks, starting with this sherbert Dries Van Noten gown she wore at the Aug. 2 Rome premiere of her new Quentin Tarantino film. Riccardo Antimiani, AP The Australian actress rockd a billowing Jacquemus dress to the German premiere of “Once Upon a Time” on Aug. 1. HAYOUNG JEON, EPA-EFE Robbie chose a sunny hue while in London for the film, in which she plays actress Sharon Tate. Sebastian Reuter, Getty Images for Sony Pictures At the London premiere of “Once Upon a Time” on July 30, Robbie took the plunge in burnt orange Oscar de la Renta. Mike Marsland, Mike Marsland/WireImage Check out her amazing eye makeup. Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images The actress opted for a neutral pants ensemble while posing for a photocall in London with her “Once Upon a Time” co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Tim P. Whitby, Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for S Robbie looked glamorous in a gauzy white Chanel Couture gown at the Hollywood premiere of “Once Upon a Time” on July 22. Jon Kopaloff, FilmMagic On July 2, Robbie attended the Chanel Fall/Winter Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week. Julien M. Hekimian, Getty Images for Chanel “Once Upon a Time” made its worldwide debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The actress posed for a photocall in a white eyelet dress and a retro braided hairstyle in France on May 22. Tony Barson, FilmMagic Robbie wore a daring Chanel pants look to the glamorous red carpet premiere of “Once Upon a Time” in Cannes on May 21. Marc Piasecki, FilmMagic Robbie promoted her film “Dreamland” at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28. She plays a bank robber in the Depression-era tale. ANGELA WEISS, AFP/Getty Images Awards season saw a lot of Robbie, who got love for her film “Mary Queen of Scots.” Here, she attends to BAFTA Awards in London on Feb. 10 in a bold Chanel Haute Couture confection. Joel C Ryan, Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP The actress kept is simple in a Chanel LBD at the designer’s pre-BAFTA dinner on Feb 9. Jeff Spicer, Getty Images Robbie looked the part of a royal in a gold and white Chanel column dress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 27. Jon Kopaloff, Getty Images Robbie and her ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ co-star Saoirse Ronan looked ultra glam at the New York premiere of their film on December 4. Robbie wore glittering Chanel. STEVEN FERDMAN, AFP/Getty Images The Aussie donned a tan Nanushka jumpsuit she wore during a forum with Nissan Futures on November 27. Charley Gallay, Getty Images for Nissan While visiting with USA TODAY in November, Robbie sports a square-necked Rodarte blouse with puffy sleeves and frayed jeans. Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY At the world premiere of “Mary Queen of Scots” on Nov. 15, she dons a turtleneck Chanel dress. Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for AFI Robbie arrives at the world premiere of “Terminal” on May 8, 2018 in a chic Chanel dress. JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP Robbie, in glitter eyeshadow and a cropped coat, poses for photographers at the Australian premiere of ‘Peter Rabbit’ in Sydney on March 17, 2018. She voices rabbit Flopsy in the animated film. DAVID MOIR/EPA-EFE Robbie sparkles in a Givenchy gown at the 71st annual British Academy Film Awards at Royal Albert Hall in London on Feb. 18, 2018. It’s just one of the many events she attended as a nominee for her starring role in ‘I, Tonya.’ NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE The best actress nominee arrives in a cheetah-print Louis Vuitton dress for the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 3, 2018. NINA PROMMER/EPA-EFE The actress suits up in Dolce & Gabbana for the Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party in Beverly Hills on March 2, 2018. EMMA McINTYRE/GETTY IMAGES FOR WOMEN IN FILM Quick change: Robbie switches into this partially sheer Chanel number for the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills on March 4, 2018, after wearing … JON KOPALOFF/WIREIMAGE … a white Chanel gown. Robbie, lead actress Oscar nominee, looked regal the 90th Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018. DAN MACMEDAN/USA TODAY Ahead of the Oscars, Robbie attends the nominees’ luncheon in a white and silver minidress at the Beverly Hilton on Feb. 5, 2018. DAN MACMEDAN/USA TODAY For the Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City on April 25, 2017, she wore a taupe Prada gown peppered with multicolored embellishments. JUSTIN LANE/EPA A lover of white on the red carpet, she donned a floor-length, long-sleeve Calvin Klein for the Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 28, 2016, in New York. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Robbie’s embroidered Gucci look for the European premiere of ‘Suicide Squad’ roared at Odeon Leicester Square on Aug. 3, 2016 in London. Karwai Tang, WireImage She continued the apparel menagerie theme at the film’s New York premiere at The Beacon Theatre on Aug. 1, 2016 in an Alexander McQueen design featuring a metallic, sequined unicorn. James Devaney, WireImage For ‘The Legend of Tarzan’s’ European premiere in London on July 5, 2016, she looked sexy in a Mu Miu nude organza gown accented with contrasting black satin trim and iridescent sequin embellishment. Karwai Tang, WireImage Earlier that day, she stepped out onto the stylish streets of Londontown looking cool in a crisp peacoat. A red, Gucci scalloped leather shoulder bag with pearl, bow and gold flower embellishment added a pop of color to her all-white ensemble. Neil Mockford, GC Images For a photo call in front of the London Eye on July 4, Robbie chose a flowy and feminine halter dress by Proenza Schouler. A pretty and perfect daytime pick! Joel Ryan/Invision/AP That pink fur trim! The blond stunner looked gorgeous in a kimono-esque Gucci dress with a high slit at the Legend of Tarzan’s world premiere in Los Angeles on June 27, 2016. Nina Prommer, EPA Robbie sizzles in a white bikini on the August 2016 cover of Vanity Fair. Patrick Demarchelier exclusively for Vanity Fair It was a white-hot Calvin Klein cutout dress for the Met Gala in May 2016. Venturelli, FilmMagic Here’s a look at the dress’s low back. Kevin Mazur, WireImage At Warner Brothers Pictures’ ‘The Big Picture’ on April 12, 2016, Robbie donned a daring sheer dress. A plaid jacket, booties and tights added an extra element of coverage to the Isabel Marant ensemble. Gabe Ginsberg, WireImage Robbie rocked a Valentino dress with a racy plunging neckline at the world premiere of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on March 1, 2016 in New York. Michael Stewart, WireImage Robbie glittered in gold Tom Ford at the 2016 Academy Awards. Dan Steinberg, Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP Red lips and a sultry gaze were the perfect accessories for the actress’ Oscars 2015 look, a dramatic Saint Laurent gown. Jason Merritt, Getty Images This girl knows what works for her, and she sticks to it. Her Golden Globes 2014 Gucci gown featured a plunging neckline and high slit. Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY The Aussie actress was a lady in red Oscar de la Renta at the U.K. premiere of The Wolf of Wall Street on Jan. 9, 2014. Joel Ryan, Invision/AP Robbie made jaws drop in a Grecian-inspired gown at the Wolf of Wall Street premiere on December 17, 2013 in New York. Jim Spellman, WireImage And here’s where Robbie first caught her eye: as a runaway-bride-turned-flight-attendant on ABC’s Pan Am. Patrick Harbron, ABC

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Mrs Brown’s Boy: Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly in ‘Mrs Brown’

Life is never boring if you’re the head of a country. There are international treaties to oversee, bitter arguments to overcome, threats from rivals and countries to conquer, and sometimes your personal life can’t help but get in the way, crown or no crown. These are the kind of stories that are irresistible for script-writers and movie makers.

So here, in order of succession to the throne, is an definitive dramatic history of (some of) the kings and queens of England.

Henry II (1154-89)

As played by Peter O’Toole in 1963’s Becket, opposite Richard Burton as the troublesome priest Thomas Becket. Peter played him again in 1968’s The Lion In Winter, bringing along Katharine Hepburn as his canny bride, Eleanor of Aquitane.

Richard I (1189-99)

Despite living a life that makes eventful look a bit drab, Richard the Lionheart’s story is most often told as the backdrop to that of Robin Hood. Richard Harris played a dying Richard brilliantly in 1976’s Robin and Marian, starring Sean Connery in the title role, but it’s Sean’s cameo as Richard in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that lingers longest in the public memory. Largely because it was an unexpected treat at the end of a daft, but entertaining romp. Mike McShane’s accent hasn’t got any better, has it?

Edward I (1272-1307)

This gangling ruler was known as Edward Longshanks because of his height—6ft 2in—and as the Hammer of the Scots, because he was something of a rotten swine to the people of Scotland. Therefore it’s no surprise that the most notable reading of this warrior king thus far was Patrick McGoohan’s drippingly evil turn in Braveheart.

Incidentally, you may like to know that Edward also gave England the phrase taking Shanks’s pony, which means walking. The gag being that his legs were so long he’d be walking even on horseback.

Richard II (1377-99)

In recent years, there’s been something of a revival of Shakespeare’s other play about a king called Richard. David Tennant played him last year, bearing a long ponytail, with Eddie Redmayne and Kevin Spacey taking up new productions before that. There’s also a blistering BBC version from 1978, with the lead role being taken by Derek Jacobi, but let’s take a moment to tip the hat towards Ben Whishaw in The Hollow Crown.

Henry V (1413-22)

You may be expecting Tom Hiddleston’s bravura reading of Shakespeare’s bullish king in The Hollow Crown to take precedence here, but despite many wondrous attempts, including that of Kenneth Branagh, the prize for best King Harry must always go to Laurence Olivier. His definitive account was filmed when Britain was in the midst of World War II, lending a fresh meaning to every speech about brothers, about courage, about patriotism. Every other attempt, no matter how nobly performed, can only pale by comparison.

Richard III (1483-5)

Well, we’re rather spoiled for choice here, given the popularity of Shakespeare’s finest villain, the last Plantagenet king. Olivier looms large once again, as no doubt will Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hollow Crown’s sequel, due in 2016. Martin Freeman is playing Richard right now. Peter Cook played him in The Black Adder, Anthony Sher gave a remarkable performance, utilising crutches to make deformed Richard appear spider-like, even Al Pacino has had a go. But really it’s the 1995 Ian McKellen fascist Richard that wins the game and this particular throne.

Henry VIII (1509-47)

It’s hard to pick a perfect Henry, because there were so many of him. There was the young warrior, the impetuous braggart, the womanizer, the hot-head who destroyed the monasteries and severed England’s link with Rome, and the glutton. Jonathan Rhys Meyers portrayed the potent, impatient young Henry in The Tudors, Keith Michell’s turn in Six Wives of Henry VIII covers the relentless (and ultimately fruitless) search for a male heir, and for the latter years, you can’t beat Charles Laughton in 1933’s The Private Life of Henry VIII.

Lady Jane Grey (1553)

She was only queen for nine days, having been coerced in order to prevent the accession of Catholic Queen Mary, and was executed age 18, so this is not a role Helen Mirren could pull off any more. Luckily a very young Helena Bonham Carter did the job for her in Lady Jane, in 1986.

Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

Another very popular choice for theatrical presentation. The list of prominent Elizabeths includes Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Helen Mirren, Miranda Richardson in Blackadder II, Joanna Page in Doctor Who, even Quentin Crisp in Sally Potter’s Orlando. But let’s face it, Cate Blanchett has the heart and stomach of this particular queen.

George III (1760-1820)

Nigel Hawthorne in Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George. That is all, except to say that music you hear as the king is restrained in this clip is Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”, as composed for the coronation of George II, and used for every monarch since.

Victoria (1837-1901)

Victoria has been played by more actors than any other British monarch, and enjoyed a reign that spanned over 60 years, so lots of scope for various key moments to be covered dramatically. Notable Victorias include Prunella Scales in An Evening with Queen Victoria, Emily Blunt in Young Victoria, Imelda Staunton in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Saskia Wickham in Victoria Meets, Pauline Collins in Doctor Who. But again, one name stands above all the others. Step forward Judi Dench in Mrs Brown.

George VI (1936-52)

For a list such as this, it would be an act of extreme contrariness not to pick Colin Firth’s performance as the unwilling King George in The King’s Speech. And for fans of efficiency we also get Guy Pearce as his elder brother Edward VIII (a performance only bested by Tom Hollander in Channel 4’s Any Human Heart), and Michael Gambon as George V.

Elizabeth II (1952-)

We could hardly leave Dame Helen Mirren out, seeing as she is the only actress to have played both Elizabeth I for TV in Elizabeth I, and Elizabeth II—once on screen in The Queen, and once on stage in The Audience. You can add Queen Charlotte in The Madness of King George too, if you like. Victoria next, please!

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The Best Movies About British Royalty

Queen Elizabeth II | Richard Pohle/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The United States has something of a fascination with British royalty. It’s an obsession that’s been around for some time now, and bizarre as it is, it’s resulted in media coverage of royal births with such concentrated intensity that it’s always a shock to find that the infant only has one head, and films about said royalty.

The latter usually comes in two different varieties. There are the movies featuring young and attractive princes and princesses. These genealogy lottery winners are usually mixing with the plebeian folk — so viewers can feel vicariously included in the fantasy — and the plot is usually synonymous with a live-action remake of Cinderella masquerading as a modern day love. The conflict often focuses on the alienating pitfalls of being royal, wealthy, or just like, really, really pretty. Makeovers, beach parties, and shopping montages seem to be an integral part of the plot.

On the other hand, there are the more historically relevant movies which tend to be of higher quality — and usually target a slightly older age group — i.e. out of the early teens. Here are five well reviewed historical dramas about royalty, both in more recent history, and in ages past.

1. The Queen

The Queen stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II just following the death of Princess Diana. The film is a unique look at both the royal family after a tragedy, and the workings of English politics with a focus on Prime Minister Tony Blair. “A lesser director might make all of this deadly earnest, but Frears treats it as what you might call a tragi-comedy of manners,” wrote Bob Mondello of NPR, “perfectly serious but human foibles everywhere.” Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the film a 97% rating, and users gave it a 76% likability rating, possibly because viewers were more bored and less charmed by the subtlety of a “comedy of manners” than critics.

2. The King’s Speech

Like The Queen, this film takes some of the perfect poise and magic out of the idea of a royal family, humanizing characters, showing weaknesses and strengths, and ultimately taking on one of the least romantic topics you could pick: speech therapy. The movie stars Colin Firth as King George VI, a man thrust into the position of King after his father’s death and his brother’s abdication in order to marry a divorced woman.

The new king, Albert, was a lifetime sufferer of a debilitating stutter, but his new position demanded a capability for giving speeches during a difficult political time for his country, leading him to work with a speech therapist with some unusual and eccentric techniques. The film received a viewers rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a critics rating of 94%.

3. The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria follows the early days of Queen Victoria and how she came to marry Prince Albert, his role in her political attitudes, and her own journey to power. It’s considerably closer to your average “falling in love” romance with crowns and court intrigue, but with Victoria being crowned and coming into a position of importance rather than the reverse position you see in many such accounts. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 76%.

4. Elizabeth

Cate Blanchett was nominated for an Oscar for best actress, and the film overall was nominated best picture in 1999. Director Shekhar Kapur was also nominated for a Golden Globe as best director for the film. Elizabeth is hardly a cheery look at the life of Queen Elizabeth, instead revealing just how much the role took and demanded of her as a leader. It goes into the challenges she faced as an unmarried woman and the political pressures this brought on, as well as the religious venom she dealt with during her time as queen. “Kapur cunningly confuses gender roles, equates sex with death, and rattles through dark, stony passions with some considerable panache,” writes Time Out critic of the film.

5. The Other Boleyn Girl

This film helps to demonstrate how the problems of royalty — or soon to be royalty — can be far less about romance, and far more about reproductive capabilities than the Princess Diaries would have you believe. The story looks at two sisters both competing to become the next queen by way of a marriage with King Henry VIII, even if that means throwing the other under the bus/horse drawn carriage. The film is based off a book by the same name written by Phillippa Gregory. But while the novel took a great deal of criticism for failure to give a truly historical account of events, the movie — starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as Ann and Mary Boleyn respectively — still managed a 62% audience response score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics didn’t love it, but the average audience goer apparently didn’t agree.

The Best Films About The British Royals

The Queen (2006)

Dame Helen Mirren seemed literally born for the role when she took to the screen as Queen Elizabeth II in this Stephen Frears film, earning herself her first Academy Award for Best Actress. In fact, so well received was her performance, she was actually invited to dinner at Buckingham Palace by none other than the Queen herself. The Queen depicts the Royal Family in the wake of Princess Diana’s tragic death, pitching Tony Blair’s government, public opinion, and the monarchy against one another as the nation vies to express its grief.

The King’s Speech (2010)

The Queen’s father, King George VI, reluctantly takes the centre stage in this multi-Academy-Award-winning film, which stars Colin Firth as the unfortunate monarch, thrown into the limelight after his older brother unexpectedly abdicates the throne. With the country on the eve of war, King George struggles to overcome a life-long speech impediment with the help of a left-field Australian speech therapist, played by the incomparable Geoffrey Rush. While many took umbrage at the film’s rose-coloured interpretation of history (especially its loose treatment of the facts, chronologically speaking), The King’s Speech was extremely well received around the world, particularly in light of its authentic costume design and Tom Hooper’s mature, artistic direction.

Diana (2013)

All the love in the world for Diana couldn’t soften the steely hearts of critics with this biographical drama. In fact, it may have had the opposite effect – with the British in general very protective of their people’s princess, any film that was deemed to have failed to do her justice was never going to get away with it lightly. Diana depicted the events in the last two years of Diana’s life, including her divorce from Prince Charles and her romance with the so-called ‘love of her life,’ Dr Hasnat Khan. Critics roundly panned the film, in particular its writing, with one even going as far as to call it ‘Mills & Boon-level’ – another, rather tactlessly, called it ‘car-crash cinema.’ Naomi Watts took a little less heat over her performance as the eponymous lady, but only marginally.

A Royal Night Out (2015)

The popularity of films about the Royals depends largely on their capacity to show their famously aloof and inaccessible subjects in a human light. If there was one story crying out for the cinematic treatment, it was this – the tale of how young princesses Elizabeth (now the Queen) and Margaret were allowed out of Buckingham Palace for one night only, to party with the people on Victory in Europe Day. Though based on a true story, the film deviates drastically from the official version of events, creating a charming, witty, deeply personable fairy tale – this is the Royals at their most romantic.

W.E. (2011)

This romantic drama, written and directed by pop princess Madonna, proved as divisive as its subject – the controversial relationship between lovesick King Edward VIII and American double-divorcee Wallis Simpson. The film covers the whole course of the pair’s courtship through to Edward’s abdication, framed through the romantic fantasies of a lonely New York housewife living in 1998, who is besotted by their story. The film ultimately takes a negative view of the historical relationship, depicting Wallis as trapped in it by Edward’s sacrifice.

The Young Victoria (2009)

Written by period drama master Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Gosford Park), this 2009 film picked up major Brownie points for the historical accuracy of its costume design, winning an Academy Award – but despite initially proposing fidelity to facts, it also picked up a fair amount of criticism for inaccuracies in other areas. The Young Victoria stars Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria in her early life, recounting the political pressures put on her by men preceding and following her father’s death, her coronation and early period of rule, and her marriage to Prince Albert.

Mrs Brown (1997)

Starring Billy Connolly alongside the inimitable Dame Judi Dench as a recently bereaved Queen Victoria, Mrs Brown explores the rumoured relationship between the Queen and John Brown, a Scottish servant who worked at Balmoral Castle. A charismatic man with a shockingly informal air with the Queen, Brown drew the resentment of many over the pair’s close friendship – and his influence over the monarch during her period of disengagement from her public duties – with speculation continuing to this day over whether or not the pair married in secret. Although originally made for television, the film ended up with an extremely successful run in cinemas, garnering multiple awards.

Victoria and Abdul (2017)

Dame Judi Dench is set to reprise her role as Queen Victoria yet again next year, returning to the silver screen with a new and perhaps more unconventional man in her life. The film, which will also star Eddie Izzard and Bollywood actor Ali Fazal, will tell the story of the Queen’s close friendship with Abdul Karim (also known as the Munshi), an Indian Muslim and attendant to the monarch in her final fifteen years on the throne. Though there is nothing to suggest their relationship was not purely platonic, the Queen’s obvious affection for him and the favours she bestowed upon him caused Abdul to be derided by other members of the Royal Household.

Queen Victoria with Abdul Karim | WikiCommons

THIS weekend, fans will flock to the cinema to watch the highly-anticipated Downton Abbey film.

But did you know the movie is actually inspired by a real-life royal visit to an aristocrat’s home in 1912?

6 It’s based on a real-life visit to Wentworth WoodhouseCredit: Alamy

In fact, the Mirror report that the movie plot was actually based on the King and Queen making a visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham in July 1912.

During their stay they were treated to entertainment by Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and dined on a 13-course dinner before enjoying an extravagant ball.

But their trip was also a dramatic one – with George and Mary caught up in the colliery disaster which took the lives of 91 men.

Wentworth archivist David Allott said: “It must have been an incredible sight, the house full of roses and chrysanthemums grown in its famous greenhouses.

6 The film hits cinemas on September 13Credit: Focus Features 6 Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova provided the entertainmentCredit: Hulton Archive – Getty 6 Fans can’t wait for the highly-anticipated film to be releasedCredit: AP:Associated Press

“The 7th Earl and Countess Fitzwilliam, Billy and Maud, had just a month’s notice to prepare for a four-day visit by 34 guests and their maids, valets and chauffeurs.

“They had to find bedroom space for 75 people in their modernised home with its new-fangled electric lights and central heating.”

And according to David, the film’s fictional visit certainly reflects the real-life version of events, aside from one detail.

6 The purpose of the visit was reportedly for George to “show his common touch”Credit: Hulton Archive – Getty

The expert explained that Downton viewers might be surprised to know that the purpose of the visit was for the King to show “his common touch” and to demonstrate he could “understand the working man”.

The Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, urged “the importance of coming into contact with the masses.”

David explains that the monarch was unsure of the reception he would receive, but on arriving into Wentworth, the station was decked with bunting and thousands of locals – a scene also depicted in the movie.

6 When they arrived, the streets were filled with well wishersCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

In a horrific turn of events, the very night of their arrival at Wentworth, disaster struck at Cadeby Colliery when an explosion underground killed 35 men, followed by a second explosion which took the life of 53.

News of the tragedy reached the royals at breakfast, with David noting that the pair made the decision to visit Cadeby.

That evening, the Queen and King arrived at the colliery and – much to the amazement of onlookers – reports indicated that they had shook the dirty hands of miners who had been recovering bodies all day and night.

The tragedy, as well as the Queen and King’s visit, is said to have changed the protocol for royal visits ever since.

The Downton Abbey movie will hit UK cinemas on Friday, before coming out in the US a week later.

Filming wrapped on the movie back in 2018 and it was announced in a Facebook post that read: “143 unforgettable scenes, 50 wonderful days, 1 glorious film.”


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Downton Abbey stars flock to London’s Leicester Square for world movie premiere

For most Londoners celebrating in Trafalgar Square on VE Day, whether ex-servicemen or survivors of the Blitz, the revelries amounted to a “right-royal night out”. Churchill, after all, had personally sanctioned “a brief period of rejoicing”. But for one teenager the phrase would have had a more literal meaning.

Down the years Ronald Thomas, now 85, has told his family how, on 8 May 1945, he danced with the future queen of England. He was not often believed, no matter how he tried to convince his children and, later, his grandchildren. But now he is standing tall. The true story of how the two teenage princesses – Elizabeth and Margaret – secretly visited the crowds and spent time dancing and singing with their people is finally gaining wider publicity this week with the release of a romantic new film, A Royal Night Out.

“My grandfather has always said he that he told Princess Elizabeth he knew who she was,” Thomas’s grandson Dominic Kavakeb told the Observer this weekend, as Britain commemorates the end of the war in Europe.

“She denied it at first, but he told her he could never have got her face wrong. Finally, she admitted it and she asked him not to tell anyone. He didn’t speak about it at the time, but once she became Queen he told a few people he had once danced with her. He has never trumpeted it though. He is still quite bashful about it.”

Thomas, who was 15 at the time the war ended and living in Harrow, had jumped on a train with a friend to join the party in Trafalgar Square. This week he told his grandson he still clearly remembers talking to some soldiers who were discreetly guarding the princess and how excited she seemed to be able to dance with her subjects, just like an ordinary person. He is also sure she would remember him.

“When he first told people, no one believed him and so he got fed up with the ridicule and stopped telling the story to anyone but his family,” said Kavakeb, 28.

A Royal Night Out, which opens in cinemas on Friday and is directed by Julian Jarrold, tells the story of that day and how the two young Windsor girls pressurised their parents – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, played by Rupert Everett and Emily Watson – to allow them a brief taste of freedom on the streets, or “a wizard all-nighter”, as the 15-year-old Princess Margaret describes it in the screenplay. “We’ll be walled up in this ghastly mausoleum for the rest of our blooming lives,” she appeals to the king and queen.

The cinematic version of history sees the younger sister going awol and the future queen forced to search for her in the fleshpots of the West End.

In fact, although we know the princesses were allowed out that night, there were accompanied at all times by a 16-strong squad of chaperones. There is also no public suggestion they misbehaved, disappeared or fell in love.

Ronald Thomas, who now lives in Welwyn Garden City, has already seen the film at a special preview screening, because the son of a family friend, Jack Reynor, has a starring role in it.

“Seventy years to the moment that he danced with the Queen, my grandad is finally being vindicated and about to watch a film about that night that forms his favourite secret memory. That’s pretty special,” posted his grandson on his Facebook page.

The most famous family in England is headed to Downton Abbey. The upcoming film adaptation of the popular period drama centers around a royal visit to the majestic country house, and explores exactly what it takes to prepare for such a grand occasion.

Before you see the story unfold on the big screen with actors Simon Jones and Geraldine James portraying the British monarch and his wife, and Kate Phillips playing their only daughter, here’s what you need to know about the real life King George V, Queen Mary, and Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood.

King George V and Queen Mary are the grandparents of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Then Princess Elizabeth rides with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary during a visit to Balmoral. MirrorpixGetty Images

But much like his granddaughter, George never thought he’d become monarch. It wasn’t until his older brother Prince Albert Victor passed away unexpectedly during an influenza pandemic in 1892 that George joined the direct line to the throne.

When his father, King Edward VII died in 1910, George became both the king of Great Britain and Ireland and the Emperor of India.

Their only daughter Princess Mary features prominently in the film.

The Princess Royal with three of her brothers and her parents in 1918. W. and D. DowneyGetty Images

No spoilers, but actress Kate Phillips describes her character as “quite a shy and modest character, she draws on her inner-strength and personal struggles as a member of the royal family.”

Indeed, Mary was reportedly quite shy, but she was still a popular public figure, and even late into her life represented Queen Elizabeth, her niece, both at home and abroad. The Princess Royal’s marriage to Henry Lascelles, the 6th Earl of Harewood, afforded her the title of Countess of Harewood, and while she was rumored to have a difficult relationship with her husband, her son George refuted that speculation in his memoir. According to historian Marlene Koenig, he wrote that his “parents got on well together and had a lot of friends and interests in common.”

More explicitly he wrote, “Our mother was never so happy in our eyes as children as when she and my father were embarked on some scheme together.”

Princess Mary and her husband Viscount Lascelles. Print CollectorGetty Images

George also reflected on Mary’s difficulty following her husband’s death in 1947. She “found it hard to cope,” he said. Mary lived for more than a decade longer than her husband, passing away in March of 1965. When she died, her New York Times obituary, remembered her as a bit of a tomboy and a public servant, and recalled how her winter wedding in 1922, helped lift the public’s spirits in the middle of a depression following WWI. “She embodied the image of public service that the royal family cultivated this century,” it reads.

Mary’s home, Harewood Estate, also makes an appearance in the film.

A beautiful scene of Harewood House. EpicsGetty Images

The property, which is located in Yorkshire, has confirmed that it was a filming location for the Downton Abbey movie. While the film takes place in 1927, Princess Mary didn’t move in to Harewood House until 1929, after her father-in-law passed away.

When she and her husband inherited the house, the New York Times described it as “one of the stateliest of English baronial homes, with its furnishings among the richest in England.” Prior to 1929, Princess Mary lived at Goldsborough Hall near Knaresborough.

Should you like to see Harewood House yourself, the estate is open to visitors most days. For more information on planning a trip, visit Harewood.org.

The visit in the Downton Abbey film was inspired by King George and Queen Mary’s 1912 visit to Wentworth Woodhouse.

A portrait of Queen Mary taken circa 1912. Hulton ArchiveGetty Images

Creator Julian Fellowes was looking for “a central story strand that would bind everyone together—that would affect the characters upstairs and downstairs and in the village,” when he started reading about George and Mary’s visit to Wentworth Woodhouse, a stately home in Yorkshire.

“Downton is also in Yorkshire,” Fellowes told Vanity Fair earlier this summer.

“And so it seemed to me quite a good parallel, that the servants and the family would be equally as excited about. In a film, every story has to be resolved within that film, and you want a unifying bond in a film—so it isn’t too scattered in its focus. That’s what the royal visit has provided us—an event that involves everyone in the house. And they all have different responses and different duties, but they’re all in that sense working towards the same end, which is that the visit should be a success. So we feel that being played out.”

It should also be noted that King George V and Queen Mary also visited Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. In February of 1917, they traveled to Highclere to visit the hospital during World War I.

The Downton Abbey film will take place in 1927, right in the middle of King George V’s reign.

Queen Mary and King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1926. PA ImagesGetty Images

His time as monarch was one of great change in Britain, and included not only WWI and its aftermath, but also the establishment of a free Irish state. He died on January 20, 1936 at the age of 70, and while he had been in poor health for many months, it is widely believed that his death was hastened by fatal doses of morphine and cocaine, which were administrated by the royal physician.

His wife Queen Mary would go on to live several more decades. She didn’t die until 1953, outliving her son King George VI, as well.

The Downton Abbey movie hits theaters in the U.S. on September 20, but tickets are available now. Get Tickets Now

Watch the trailer below:

Caroline Hallemann Senior Digital News Editor As the senior digital news editor for Town & Country, Caroline Hallemann covers everything from the British royal family to the latest episodes of Outlander, Killing Eve, and The Crown.