Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year reign comes to an end, owing to the monarch's demise on Thursday (8 September). The role of Britain's longest-reigning figurehead has been marked with prestige and aplomb, both in reel and real life.
Several actors have played The Queen, over the years. In honor of her demise, here's looking back at 14 actors who portrayed the Queen on screen:
1. Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton in The Crown (2016 - Present)
Netflix's The Crown is considered to be the most nuanced portrayal of the Queen and the trials and tribulations of her life. In true The Crown fashion, the show replaces the key actors every two seasons, to present an authentic portrayal of the monarchy aging over the years.
The first two seasons had Claire Foy playing the Queen and for the next two, Olivia Coleman took on the royal role. Imelda Staunton is slated to play the older Queen in the latest installment of the show.
I’d never really registered the fact that in order for her to become queen, her dad had to die. The one person who could tell you how to do the job is dead, and everyone is looking to you to know what to do, and you’re terrified. But she just keeps calm and carries on, and that’s it, really. That’s the story of her life.CLAIRE FOY, ACTOR
2. Stella Gonet in Spencer (2021)
Pablo Larraín's critically acclaimed film delves into Princess Diana's existentialism prior to her divorce from Prince Charles. Considered a landmark film in Kristen Stewart's career (for her authentic portrayal of Lady Di), it also features Scottish actress Stella Gonet as an imperious Queen Elizabeth II.
3. Judy Kaye in Diana: The Musical (2021)
In this live-action musical delving into Princess Diana's life, Judy Kaye masterfully plays The Queen. On being asked about her role in a Behind-The-Scenes clip, she says, "To me, Queen Elizabeth is the ultimate mother, the ultimate mama. She cares so much for her children."
Honor bound, duty bound, passionate about her job and passionate about her country.JUDY KAYE, ACTOR
4. Maggie Sullivun in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance (2018)
In this Hallmark version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's courtship, the monarch is played by Maggie Sullivun. The film went on to become a trilogy with two more installments: Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal (2019) and Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace (2021). Sullivun's uncanny resemblance to The Queen shone through in all the films.
5. Sarah Gadon in A Royal Night Out (2015)
This lesser-known indie comedy is based on an imagined anecdote featuring a teenage Elizabeth. The plot follows her and her sister, Margaret as they attempt to escape their royal guards and acquaint themselves with the locals.
Since Sarah Gadon was one of the first actors to play a younger Queen Elizabeth II, she voiced her insecurities about the portrayal. Speaking to MailOnline, Gadon referred to Her Majesty as "an icon" and spoke about how difficult it is "to humanize someone who is embalmed in icon status."
Because I’m Canadian and Julian (the Director) is British, whenever I would talk about a reaction, he would sometimes say to me, ‘Temper it, with maybe a little more reserve, because you’re playing the Queen.’SARAH GADON, ACTOR
6. Kristin Scott Thomas in The Audience (2013)
A lesser known fact about Peter Morgan's hit series The Crown: It is based on his play titled The Audience starring Kristin Scott Thomas, who inherited the role from Helen Mirren. Portraying the queen as an icy and stoic monarch, the play also delves into her interpersonal relationship with her prime ministers.
7. Emma Thompson in Playhouse Presents: Walking The Dogs (2012)
Starring two-time Oscar winner, Emma Thompson, this short film is a part of a British anthology series and depicts the infamous 1982 Buckingham Palace break-in. Emma Thompson plays the Queen, left alone with an intruder while her security forces walk her dogs. The dramedy presents a subtle and sensitive portrayal of the Queen.
8. Jane Alexander in William & Catherine: A Royal Romance (2011)
A made-for-TV movie and prequel to Harry and Meghan, Lifetime's William & Catherine: A Royal Romance explored Prince William and Kate's courtship and featured Jane Alexander as the Queen.
9. Freya Wilson in The King’s Speech (2010)
Touted as one of the most memorable portrayals of The Queen, British child actor Freya Wilson played little Lilibet, a loving and supportive daughter to Colin Firth's King George VI. The film explores the King's attempts to overcome his stammer.
10. Helen Mirren in The Queen (2006)
Academy Award-winning actress, Helen Mirren played Her Highness so incredibly that the actor's performance went on to become an yardstick for playing the regal role. Her acting prowess was even adored by the Queen herself, as she knighted the actor and conferred her with the title of "Dame" in 2003.
Speaking with Charlie Rose, Mirren says, "Although the monarchy is generally a very beloved and respected institution, parallel with that we have a huge tradition of satirizing and mocking the royal family. And in a strange way what was controversial about this film is the fact that it’s actually not."
I suspect she (The Queen) is blessed with a lack of imagination, which makes her able to be absolutely consistent. You know, imagination is a dangerous thing. It can lead you up all kinds of dangerous routes. And I don’t think the queen has that kind of imagination. And because of that, she’s able to be utterly consistent.HELEN MIRREN, ACTOR
11. Neve Campbell in Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)
This 2004 slapstick parody stars Christian Slater as an action-hero version of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Neve Campbell’s portrayal of the Queen is fresh and hilarious - complete with an over-the-top posh British accent.
12. Jeannette Charles in Austin Powers: Goldmember (2002)
The most famous Queen-lookalike, Jeanette Charles has based her career off of having an uncanny likeness with HRH. Coupled with her comedic timing, she has starred in over 30 films, shows and other productions as the Queen. The Naked Gun, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, the Beatles satire, The Rutles and Austin Powers' Goldmember are some.
Some actors didn’t realize how hard I worked. I spent hours perfecting the queen’s voice and mannerisms and kept abreast of royal developments so I could mention them in my speeches.JEANETTE CHARLES, ACTOR
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)