"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" - Henry IV, Part II
Award-winning 2006 drama about how the popular and media reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales came to shape the relations between the British Royal Family and the Blair government, with the main focus on the developing relationship between HM The Queen (Helen Mirren) and new Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen).Surprisingly low on actual Diana-presence (occasional bits of archive footage only), and generally treats all the characters rather more sympathetically than might have been expected, including such stock figures of media fun as Charles and Philip, and for that matter Tony Blair — Cherie, however, is as smugly derisive as one would expect.Mirren's performance in the title role was highly praised and earned her multiple awards, including the Oscar for Best Actress.The same production/writing/director team having made a previous film about Blair starring Sheen, 2003's The Deal, The Queen is now retconned viewed as the second installment in the "Blair Trilogy", which was concluded by The Special Relationship (about Blair and Bill Clinton, with some Blair/Bush towards the end) in 2010.
This film contains examples of:
And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with Prime Minister Blair and Queen Elizabeth II discussing education reform as they walk the royal grounds, proving they had both settled into their new roles and are back at work...
Badass Boast: Blair chews out Alistair Campbell when he insults the Queen three times in a row, Blair proudly explaining his admiration for the Queen for her sense of duty and dignity.
Based on a True Story - There was serious effort to get all the details of that week correct. Some of the events they couldn't confirm - such as Blair's private discussions with Elizabeth - were based on how the persons were known to say and behave.
In fact, their take was so convincing that Blair, who claims not to have seen the movie, quoted from it when describing his first meeting with the Queen in his autobiography. Could it be Popcultural Osmosis? Memetic Mutation? Blatant Lies?
Born in the Wrong Century: The Windsors are perpetually bewildered by the not-so-traditionally-British ways of the current Brits.
Not true. Many other people were surprised by the reaction. Mostly it was the media playing it up to epic proportions.
Brick Joke: Directly after Diana's death, Charles voices his fears over being shot by an enraged Diana supporter. Much later in the film, when the Royal Family finally came out of Balmoral Castle, a motorbike backfires and Charles jumps and looks around in fright.
Everybody Calls Her The Queen: The Queen is always called "Your Majesty", "Ma'am", and Prince Philip calls her "Cabbage" (the real Prince Philip's actual nickname for her) at some point, with only a CNN newsreader referring to her as "Queen Elizabath".
Flanderization: Largely avoided, the Windsors (and the Blairs) are shown as rounded, if dysfunctional, people. If anything, this is probably the most toned-down version of Alastair Campbell's personality and role in politics you'll see (compare The Thick of It, just for starters).
The film highlights that Prince Charles of all the Royals had the best sense of how people were going to react to Diana's death, and it shows him as genuinely upset when he visits Diana's coffin.
Fake Brit: American James Cromwell as Prince Phillip.
It's stranger than that: Phillip is himself a part-Danish, part-German born in Greece who first moved to Britain when he was seven.
Foregone Conclusion: Well obviously, but try watching the recreation of Diana leaving the Ritz hotel and being chased by photographers on motorbikes without getting a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
Impersonation Paradox: Largely averted - Sheen's Blair, in particular, is eerily like the real thing in voice and mannerisms, despite not looking all that much like Tony Blair.
Though most actors end up looking like who they're playing, with only two exceptions: Charles, whose actor doesn't look at all like him, and Phillip, who is also a well-known actor, as noted by Hey, It's That Guy!.
Jerk Ass: On both sides. Prince Phillip doesn't get all the furor and keeps giving his wife the Queen bad advice. Blair has to deal with Alastair constantly making rude remarks about the Royals, leading up to Blair's passionate defense of the Queen.
The Men Of Downing Street: The film's subplot of how a Prime Minister interacts with the Queen - namely, how a "modern" Minister like Tony Blair is going to work with a woman who's so experienced she can name-drop Winston Churchill on you and get away with it.
The Obi-Wan: The Queen Mother, to whom The Queen goes for advice when relations with Blair (not to mention the media furor) reach a tipping point.
Precision F-Strike - The Queen — yes, Her Royal Majesty — when she busts an axle in her Range Rover:
Reality Subtext: Near the end of the movie, the Queen warns Blair that what happened to her can happen to him as well. It is almost certainly intended as a reference to Blair's Fallen Hero status in the eyes of many people following the Iraq War.
Prince Charles' fears of being shot may at first be taken to be an overreaction and irrational fear, until you recall that only a few years ago in Sydney, Charles narrowly avoided being assassinated himself by a student republican protester. While the gun only carried blanks, he would have been highly shaken by it nevertheless.