The queen, as seen on the big screen

She's one of the most recognisable women in the world. As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her diamond jubilee, we look at 10 films the British monarch has been interpreted in.
Dame Helen Mirren as The Queen.
Dame Helen Mirren as The Queen.

The Queen

This 2006 drama focuses on a portion of the queen's reign that she'd probably rather forget – the death of Princess Diana and its aftermath - and features a deservedly Oscar-winning performance from Helen Mirren as the queen, as well as equally skilled (and very funny) ones from Michael Sheen as Tony Blair and Helen McCrory as his wife Cherie. It's actually not the first time Mirren had played a queen – she starred as the virgin queen in the TV series Elizabeth I in 2005.

The King's Speech

While this Oscar-winning movie focuses on events surrounding King Edward VIII's abdication in 1936, when the queen was only 10 years old, the young princess does get a look in as Edward's younger – and very reluctant – brother (Elizabeth's father) steps up to assume the throne. Helena Bonham Carter (as Elizabeth, the Duchess Of York, the future Queen Mother) is seen reading a story with her two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, while Colin Firth, as George VI, tells his own fairy tale to the girl who will grow up to be queen. Elizabeth is played by the Hammersmith schoolgirl Freya Wilson in her first movie role.

Cars 2

The sequel to Pixar's animated hit Cars, this so-so adventure has the racing car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) caught up in an adventure with his tow-truck pal Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and the British spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine). After taking in Tokyo, Paris and Italy, the action leads them to London and the final race of the World Grand Prix, witnessed by Queen Elizabeth II – who looks remarkably like a Rolls-Royce Phantom (and is voiced by Vanessa Redgrave).

Churchill: The Hollywood Years

Christian Slater as Churchill? Scream's Neve Campbell as Princess Elizabeth? Yes, anything is possible, especially in this awful (but bizarrely compelling) satire about the Second World War and Hollywood's uneven portrayal of Britain's role in it. Here, Churchill is a US naval officer who gets Princess Elizabeth pregnant, and things get decidedly worse from there as Miranda Richardson pops up as Eva Braun, Anthony Sher is Hitler and a parade of British comedy actors wander around wondering what they have done to deserve a role in such a dire comedy (did we mention Slater gets to rap on the soundtrack?).


Roald Dahl wrote The BFG in 1982. The film tells the story of Sophie (based on Dahl's model granddaughter Sophie Dahl), who is whisked off to Giant Country by the Big Friendly Giant. He's the only giant who doesn't eat people, so Sophie suggests he should meet the queen and ask for her help in ridding the world of bad giants. The story was adapted into an animated movie in 1989, with David Jason as the voice of the BFG, Amanda Root as Sophie and To The Manor Born's Angela Thorne sounding very regal as the queen.


The Earth's core is heating up, highways in Los Angeles are falling apart and a star-studded cast has to run for its lives as rising sea levels threaten the world in this disaster movie from Roland Emmerich. But don't worry, a secret project to ensure human survival is underway, and by the end of the movie, the great and the good are to board special "arks" they can live on until the water subsides. And yes, are there some corgis over there snapping at the heels of an elderly lady? Could the queen have made it on to one of the ships?

Johnny English

Originally a character for a Barclaycard commercial, Rowan Atkinson's bumbling British spy got his own movie in 2003. After everyone else in MI7 is killed, Johnny English is the only one left to investigate the theft of the Crown Jewels, a crime masterminded by the Frenchman Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich). He wants to be the king of England and convinces the queen (played here by Fawlty Towers' Prunella Scales) to abdicate by threatening her beloved corgis.

Austin Powers in Goldmember/Naked Gun/National Lampoon's European Vacation

What do these three comedies have in common? Each features the actress Jeannette Charles as Queen Elizabeth II, a role she has also performed in numerous TV series and adverts, including The Rutles and the UK sitcom Never The Twain. Jeannette, who is one year younger than the queen, made her first film appearance as Her Majesty in European Vacation, as the mishap-prone Griswold family (led by Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo) caused chaos on a trip they won to London, Paris, Germany and Rome. This was followed by her funniest performance, alongside Leslie Nielsen, in the first Naked Gun movie, in which the queen is the subject of an assassination attempt while on an official visit to the US. Finally, she pops up in Mike Myers's James Bond spoof, Austin Powers In Goldmember, in which the British agent is knighted by the queen before he has to thwart a nefarious plan by his nemesis Dr Evil.

Published: June 4, 2012 04:00 AM


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