queen-actresses

From Helen Mirren to Claire Foy: actresses who have portrayed the Queen

Sharnaz Shahid

With Claire Foy taking on the role of the Queen in new period drama, The Crown, we take a look back at all the actresses who have played the British monarch.

Claire Foy, The Crown (2016)

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Focusing on the early years of her reign to her relationship with Prince Phillip, Netflix has splashed out more than £81 million to bring Queen Elizabeth II's story to life in their new period drama, The Crown. Reported to be the streaming website's biggest budget to date, Claire Foy has taken on the responsibility of playing the British monarch.

"To play a member of the royal family you have to forget everything that you know, and all these preconceived ideas that you have," the actress explained at a press conference on Tuesday. "I don’t think you can approach it as someone who has grown up with that family. It is a very odd thing trying to approach these human beings as you want to hold them on a pedestal and you can't do that when playing a character."

Helen Mirren, The Queen (2006) and The Audience (2013)

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Helen Mirren has perhaps delivered the most acclaimed portrayal of the monarch; the actress won an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 2007 for her starring role in The Queen. Almost a decade later she reprised her role as the royal from her younger years to the present day by performing in The Audience on Broadway.

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"You're thinking 'it's the Queen, it's the Queen'," she said, when asked what it was like to meet the real-life royal. "Of course, even more so I think because I feel self-conscious, you know. I am genuinely always astounded by her aura, her twinkle, her presence. It never fails to surprise me, and again it's what everyone says when they meet her - it was what overwhelmed me the first time I met her."

Kristin Scott Thomas, The Audience (2015)

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After Helen Mirren's incredible turn, Kristin Scott Thomas took centre stage in Peter Morgan's play The Audience, which marked her West End debut at London's Apollo Theatre. "I'm not doing an impression of the Queen, I'm trying to tell a story about what it would be like to be in her position," the actress previously said of the role.

Emma Thompson, Walking the Dogs (2012)

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Emma Thompson portrayed the Queen in a TV drama based on the famous Buckingham Palace break-in which took place 30 years ago. Intruder Michael Fagan sneaked into the palace and managed to find his way into her bedroom, sitting on her bed where they chatted for ten minutes.

Freya Wilson, The King's Speech (2010)

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Aspiring actress Freya Wilson appeared as a young Princess Elizabeth in the 2010 period drama The King's Speech alongside Colin Firth who played her father, King George VI. The 11-year-old delivered a powerful performance in the Oscar-winning film about King George VI's ascension to the throne. Discussing how she landed the role, she told publishing company Nosy Crow: "My agent put me forward for an audition, I think. I listened to clips of speeches made by Princess Elizabeth beforehand. I was called back three times and finally got the part."

Jennifer Saunders, Minions (2015)

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Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders lent her voice to the 2015 hit animation, Minions. Her co-star Sandra Bullock had nothing but admiration for the British actress' take on the Queen. "She's more like me than anything else I've been in," joked Sandra. "She's evil, she's crabby - all the traits I think make a good villainess. It's more fun to be mean than to try and make nice with everybody all the time. It's so good to be bad. And I got paid for it."

Sarah Gadon, A Royal Night Out (2015)

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Inspired by true events, Queen Elizabeth the second and her younger sister Princess Margaret were allowed out of the palace for one night to celebrate VE Day in 1945. The Toronto native told HELLO! Canada that playing the role of Princess Elizabeth during VE Day celebrations was "terrifying" but "really beautiful." The fun and romantic flick is a reimagined take on the night the future queen and her sister Princess Margaret stepped outside the palace walls to celebrate in the streets.

Jane Alexander, William & Catherine: A Royal Romance (2011)

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Four-time Oscar nominee Jane Alexander played HRH in 2011's TV movie William & Catherine: A Royal Romance. Taking the role in her stride, Jane confessed she wasn't intimidated by the character. "No, not really, because she is a public figure, so I'm sure she is used to these kinds of things. God knows Helen Mirren did a brilliant job in 'The Queen' - that started it off," she said. "Who knows if she and Phillip would ever look at movies about the royal family. Maybe they would out of curiosity, but my hunch is, maybe not. They know the real Kate. They know the real William."

Rosemary Leach, The Afternoon Play: Tea with Betty (2006)

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The acclaimed actress played the high-profile part in a 2006 episode of the BBC's Afternoon Play called Tea with Betty, which sees the Queen visit a council estate and have afternoon tea with a resident in a show of community spirit.