Queen Elizabeth II became a cultural staple during her long and eventful reign. She was the most photographed woman in history — gracing the cover of ‘Time’ magazine at age three, the first of several such appearances — and was depicted on the big screen, the small screen, the stage, in music, and in art, says ‘Variety’ in a special report.
She is the subject of the Netflix original series ‘The Crown’, which follows the Queen from the 1940s to modern times and examines her relationship with the various prime ministers — Liz Truss was the 15th she invited to lead Her Majesty’s Government 48 hours before her passing — as well as with other figures, both within the Royal Family and outside it.
Over the show’s six seasons, each of which covers approximately a decade in her life, she has been portrayed by three different actors: Claire Foy, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal, and Olivia Colman, who earned both a Golden Globe and an Emmy, and Imelda Staunton, who will portray the Queen in her 70s and 80s during the show’s fifth and sixth (also believed to be its final) season. Season 5 will premiere on Netflix in November this year, notes ‘Variety’.
Helen Mirren also memorably played the British monarch in the 2006 film ‘The Queen’, written by ‘The Crown’ creator Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Frears. The film was set in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, a low point for the British royal family, and won Mirren a best actress Oscar for her performance, adds ‘Variety’.
Mirren went on to play Elizabeth again in the West End and on Broadway, in the stage hit ‘The Audience’.
The monarch also made an appearance in ‘Spencer’, played by Stella Gonet — the film stars Kirsten Stewart as her daughter-in-law Princess Diana — while the Queen’s early childhood was portrayed in the Oscar-winning 2010 film, ‘The King’s Speech’, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham.
The 2015 British comedy drama film ‘A Royal Night Out’ offered a fictionalised glimpse of the night Elizabeth (played by Sarah Gadon) and her sister Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) were allowed secretly to slip out of Buckingham Palace to join the crowds celebrating V-E Day on the streets of London in 1945.
In 2016, the Queen, played by Penelope Wilton, was a character in ‘The BFG’, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl and ‘The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!’ also tackled the British monarch, according to ‘Variety’ — literally.
In this 1988 comedy, Leslie Nielsen’s character uses a running tackle to save the Queen from what he wrongly believes to be an assassination attempt. The actress who plays her in the film, Jeannette Charles, has made a career of royal impersonation, standing in as Elizabeth in about 20 movies and TV programmes over a 40-year period.
In animated form, notes ‘Variety’, the Queen in her Cinderella-like royal coach survived an attempted robbery of her crown in the 2015 film ‘Minions’ and a rear-ending by Homer Simpson in a 2003 episode of ‘The Simpsons’ (titled ‘The Regina Monologues’).
She wasn’t so lucky in a 2012 episode of ‘Family Guy’, in which a high-speed chase of her carriage ends in a royal fatality, and in 2007, according to ‘Variety’, an episode of ‘South Park’ sparked outrage after it showed her dying by suicide on the throne. She also made an appearance in Gary Janetti’s short-lived animated comedy ‘The Prince’, which ran for one season on HBO Max.
In 2022, the Queen delighted viewers around the world by guest-starring in a video with Paddington Bear. In the skit, which was filmed at Windsor Castle and broadcast before the Platinum Jubilee concert, Paddington is invited to the Queen’s abode for tea where chaos ensues.
At one point in the video that went viral globally, the bear offers Her Majesty a marmalade sandwich fished out of his hat, as he tells her: “I always keep one for emergencies.” In response, the Queen replies, “So do I” and opens her handbag to pull out a marmalade sandwich of her own.