From Dame Helen Mirren to Claire Foy: The many portrayals of the Queen

·3-min read
Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (PA) (PA Media)
Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II in the film The Queen (PA) (PA Media)

The Queen’s historical reign on the throne has long made for a captivating story, leading to a variety of on-screen portrayals of the monarch.

From Dame Helen Mirren to Claire Foy, here is a look at a number of the actors who have taken on the role.

– Dame Helen Mirren: The Queen and The Audience

The Oscar-winning British actress has portrayed the Queen on the silver screen and on the stage.

She first took on the role for 2006’s The Queen which focused on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and whether the monarch would return to London from Balmoral to pay tribute amid growing public pressure.

Dame Helen, who won an Oscar and Bafta for her portrayal, previously revealed she sent a letter to the Queen while shooting the movie as she quickly realised she was dealing with a sensitive moment in her life.

Following the release of the film, which was written by Peter Morgan, she was invited to have dinner with the real monarch but was unable to attend because she was filming in the US.

The Hollywood star also played the Queen for the 2013 West End play The Audience, which centred on weekly meetings between the monarch and her prime ministers.

Dame Helen won an Oliver award for her portrayal and a Tony Award when she reprised the role for the Broadway version in 2015.

– Claire Foy: The Crown

British actress Foy was the first to portray the Queen on the popular Netflix series The Crown, which also sees Morgan as the main scriptwriter.

She made her debut in the role in 2016 for the show’s first season and reprised it for the second with Matt Smith playing the late Prince Philip.

Foy received a string of awards for her portrayal including an Emmy and Golden Globe as well as two Bafta nominations.

– Olivia Colman: The Crown

Colman took over the role for the third and fourth seasons of the royal period drama series.

She was also awarded an Emmy and Golden Globe for her portrayal of the middle-aged years of the Queen’s life.

– Imelda Staunton: The Crown

Staunton was the third actress cast to portray the Queen in the lavish TV series.

The actress will play the monarch reigning into the 21st Century in the upcoming fifth series, which is due to return to screens in November.

The Crown was due to end after its fifth series, but Morgan later said it will be extended to include a sixth series.

– Dame Emma Thompson: Playhouse Presents

Dame Emma portrayed the Queen in an episode of Playhouse Presents, which dramatised an incident in 1982 when an intruder broke into the monarch’s bedroom.

The episode, titled Walking The Dogs, retold the story of how the intruder broke in while a Buckingham Palace guard attending to her room took her dogs for a walk.

– Stella Gonet: Spencer

Scottish actress Gonet accepted the challenge of portraying the Queen for the 2021 film Spencer.

In contrast to a number of other films and television series, Spencer is set over the course of just three days and follows Diana, Princess of Wales during the Christmas of 1991 at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

– Freya Wilson: The King’s Speech

The British actress played a young Princess Elizabeth in the 2010 historical film which tells the story of the future King George VI, the Queen’s late father, who works to overcome a stammer by seeing a speech and language therapist.