The Queen on Screen

Queen Elizabeth herself in the documentary series "In Their Own Words". (Photo: Lichfield)
Queen Elizabeth herself in the documentary series "In Their Own Words". (Photo: PBS/Lichfield) 

Though Queen Elizabeth II actually turned 90 on April 21st, this coming weekend is when the big party really happens. Her Majesty’s official birthday festivities include a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral and the Trooping of the Colour, also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade.

The merriment culminates on Sunday with a giant street party on The Mall with 10,000 guests eating a picnic lunch and being entertained by street performers and circus acts. Named the Patron’s Lunch, this event recognizes the Queen’s patronage of over 600 charities. In addition local street parties have been organized all over the UK to celebrate the monarch’s entry into her ninth decade.

Unfortunately most of us will not be attending any of these historic commemorations. Therefore, I put together a series of video film and television portrayals as a tribute of sorts to the longest reigning monarch in British history. It’s nothing like being at one of these events, but it’s what I do so please enjoy!

The King’s Speech . This 2010 Oscar winner gave us insight not only into King George VI’s struggles with a debilitating stutter, but also into his family life with his wife and two beloved young daughters. In this clip we see a young Princess Elizabeth (Freya Wilson) already comprehending her family’s unique circumstances and responsibilities. 


The CrownThough this Netflix series won’t air until November 2016, it examines a rarely dramatized but important era in the Queen’s life. This ten-part series begins with a 25 year old Elizabeth (Claire Foy) as she is about to assume the throne. The private side of her early years as a wife, mother and monarch are depicted with candor, particularly her relationship with her husband Philip (Matt Smith) and Winston Churchill (John Lithgow).


The Queen. A more familiar screen portrayal of Elizabeth II is Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning turn as the monarch during the tragic period after Princess Diana’s death. By this point in her reign, the Queen is an old hand at the traditions and duties of her position. However, she finds she has much to learn about the human side the British public expects to see from her.


While the clips above are of a biographical nature, the ones to follow display the extent to which Queen Elizabeth II is a cultural icon.

Doctor WhoBesides the Queen herself, could there be a more recognizable symbol of Britishness than the Doctor? After all, he’s been on the telly almost as long as she’s been on the throne.

In the 2007 Christmas special episode ‘The Voyage of the Damned’, the Queen (voiced by Jessica Martin) thanks the Doctor for saving her and her adorable corgis from yet another yuletide disaster.


Minions. Her Majesty is also not a stranger to being portrayed as an animated character. From South Park and Robot Chicken to The Simpsons and Family Guy, this world famous monarch has been the subject of many an American parody. And in her homeland, the Queen and her family were consistently lampooned by the 80’s and 90’s British puppet show satire, Spitting Image.

Most recently, a younger 1960’s version of Elizabeth was immortalized in a computer-animated feature about little yellow groupies who feel compelled to follow super villains. Voiced by Jennifer Saunders, this feisty sovereign was not about to become a kidnapping victim without putting up a rather raucous fight.


The Olympic Opening Ceremonies with James Bond. The Queen is no stranger to the camera; her televised Christmas Day speeches alone number well over fifty. However, the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremonies marked her acting debut. Not many starlets can boast of an Oscar-winning director (Danny Boyle) and a suave co-star (Daniel Craig) on their first screen credit!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of the Queen’s moments on screen. Royal musings are encouraged in the comments section below as well as partaking in a bit of sponge cake and tea to celebrate HM’s 90th!