After more than 70 years of rule over England, the legendary monarch passed away at the age of 96. Since ascending to the throne in 1952 after serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, Queen Elizabeth II has established herself as an iconic figure, ushering in the 21st century with Winston Churchill. Elizabeth II assumed the throne of seven independent Commonwealth nations at the age of 25, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). She also served as the head of the Commonwealth.
Many actresses have portrayed Queen Elizabeth II on both small and large screens over the years. Over 100 movies and TV shows have included Queen Elizabeth II as a character, ranging from the wildly popular “The Crown” on Netflix to the Academy Award-winning “The King’s Speech.” Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson, both of whom the queen herself bestowed the title of Dame upon, have both performed as the monarch in the past.
However long-lasting her influence on British and world politics may be, Queen Elizabeth II’s iconography endures today.
Scroll down to view Queen Elizabeth II in all of her incarnations in memory of her.
Helen Mirren, “The Queen”
The Queen, a 2006 movie directed by Stephen Frears, beautifully depicted Princess Diana’s death’s aftermath. The movie was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Direction, Costume Design, and Music in addition to Mirren’s performance as Queen Elizabeth II, which earned her an Academy Award.
In a play called “The Audience,” which eventually served as the basis for Netflix’s “The Crown,” Mirren earned a Tony Award for her performance as the queen. Mirren also holds a damehood conferred by the queen.
Kristin Scott Thomas, “The Audience”
Both Helen Mirren and Kristin Scott Thomas played the queen in the theatrical production of “The Audience.” 2015 saw Thomas take up the part at London’s Apollo Theatre, where she was given a damehood by Queen Elizabeth II. Netflix’s “The Crown” was influenced by “The Audience.”
Emma Thompson, “Walking the Dogs”
British actress Dame Emma Thompson portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the British television movie “Playhouse Presents: Walking the Dogs.” The historic 1982 break-in at Buckingham Palace by Michael Fagan is depicted in the 2012 film.
Imelda Staunton, “The Crown”
For the fifth and sixth seasons of “The Crown,” Imelda Staunton plays Queen Elizabeth II. Other new cast members include Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, Dominic West as Prince Charles, and Elizabeth Debicki as the tragic Princess Diana. The two most recent seasons will span the years 1990 to 2003.
“As an actor it was a joy to see how both Claire Foy and Olivia Colman brought something special and unique to Peter Morgan’s scripts,” Staunton stated. “I am genuinely honored to be joining such an exceptional creative team and to be taking ‘The Crown’ to its conclusion.”
Olivia Colman, “The Crown”
Oscar winner Olivia Colman portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” Seasons 3 and 4, receiving both an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for the role.
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Claire Foy, who played Queen Elizabeth II for the first time in the Netflix series “The Crown,” received a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of the monarch’s ascent to power. Foy played the queen for the first two seasons of the show when it initially aired in 2016. Vanessa Kirby played the queen’s sister Princess Margaret, while Matt Smith played her husband Prince Philip.
Sarah Gadon, “A Royal Night Out”
A teenage Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and her sister Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) spent a night away from Buckingham Palace to commemorate V.E. Day, when peace was declared throughout Europe in 1945, in the romantic comedy from 2015.
Jane Alexander, “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance”
Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Jane Alexander in the 2011 made-for-TV film “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance,” which followed the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Neve Campbell, “Churchill: The Hollywood Years”
Neve Campbell plays Princess Elizabeth in Peter Richardson’s 2004 parody film, who falls in love with Winston Churchill (Christian Slater) during World War II.
Freya Wilson, “The King’s Speech”
In “The King’s Speech,” Colin Firth, an Oscar winner, plays the future King George VI, who struggles with a speech impediment while serving in World War II. Along with Firth winning the award for best actor, Tom Hooper winning best director, and David Seidler winning best original screenplay, the movie took home the best picture Oscar. There were a total of 12 nominations for the movie, and Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter both got one for Best Supporting Actor for their individual performances.
Barbara Flynn, “The Queen”
In 2009, the UK’s Channel 4 debuted “The Queen,” in which Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed by five different actresses during the length of her life. Diana Quick, Barbara Flynn, Samantha Bond, Emilia Fox, Susan Jameson, and others have all portrayed the queen at various points in her reign.
Rosemary Leach, “Margaret”
The late British actress Rosemary Leach played Queen Elizabeth II in the 2009 made-for-TV film “Margaret,” which was about Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister. Buckingham Palace reacted negatively to the movie because it suggested that the queen had persuaded Thatcher to quit. An official statement issued by Buckingham Palace read: “We never discuss anything regarding meetings that the Queen has with any of her prime ministers.”
Jeannette Charles, “The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad!”
With roles in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” “The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad!” “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and “All You Need Is Cash,” Jeannette Charles has been a professional Queen Elizabeth II mimic for 50 years. In May 2022, Charles admitted to The Guardian that her performances had drawn criticism for being perceived as disrespectful of the British queen.
“I would never do anything that reflected badly on the monarch or myself,” Charles explained. “I don’t think anyone else had earned a living by resembling someone famous before – now there’s a whole industry.”
Maggie Sullivan, “Harry & Meghan, A Royal Romance”
In the 2018 Lifetime film “Harry & Meghan, A Royal Romance” and its 2019 follow-up, “Harry & Meghan, Becoming Royal,” Maggie Sullivan plays Queen Elizabeth II.