11 Movies About British Monarchs to Satisfy Your Royal Addiction
July 27, 2018
If you’re obsessed with NETFLIX’s The Crown (and impatiently waiting for its 2019 premiere date), we recommend these 11 lush movies about the British monarchy to help satisfy your royal addiction. From the scandalous days of Anne Boleyn to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve put the films in watching order for a truly royal marathon at home.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
The 1969 Charles Jarrott-directed classic may be long forgotten in today’s day and age, but if you’re looking for a good historical piece about the relationship of Anne Boleyn (played brilliantly by French actress Genevieve Bujold) and King Henry VIII (Richard Burton), then this is the film to see. The movie charts Anne’s manipulative ways to overthrow Henry’s current wife, Catharine of Aragon (Irene Papas), and how she came to produce an heir, Elizabeth I, the future Queen of England.
RELATED READS: Everything We Know So Far About The Crown Season 3
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
The cattiest film of the bunch is Justin Chadwick’s The Other Boleyn Girl, which plays more like a medieval Gossip Girl then it does a royal drama. However, its gossipy nature and dramatic dialogue still makes the movie a load of fun to watch. It tells the story of the two Boleyn sisters Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) as they vie for the affection of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). Henry is originally interested in Mary, the sweet natured sister, but Anne is not ready to give up without a fight.
Cate Blanchett cemented herself in Hollywood as a leading player when she starred in this Queen Elizabeth I biopic. She garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and would defy statistics again almost 10 years later when she is nominated for the same role in the sequel. The film follows Elizabeth I’s early rough years as the English monarch, and how she changed from a flirty girl to the regal and stoic Virgin Queen.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)
Royal fanatics are anticipating this year’s remake of Mary, Queen of Scots starring Oscar-nominated actresses Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as the iconic rivals. Earlier in the 1970s, Charles Jarrott followed up Anne of the Thousand Days with this film. Mary (played by Vanessa Redgrave), Elizabeth’s cousin, believes that the English Queen’s Catholic beliefs is a threat to the Crown. When Elizabeth discovers these rumors, she puts Mary in exile, only fueling her anger to take back the throne which she believes is rightfully hers.
QUICK HISTORY TIDBIT: Although not portrayed in the movie, Elizabeth would fail to produce an heir, and Mary’s son would reign as King when she dies.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a continuation of 1998’s Elizabeth movie starring Cate Blanchett. Older and wise, the film follows Elizabeth as she enters war with Spain. As history shows, the Queen was victorious and England prospered over the next 40 years. This would later be known as The Golden Age. Although the film was critically-panned, it’s a straight-up history lesson worth checking out. The costumes and set pieces are spectacular (how can you not love Blanchett in an armored gown made out of metal?), and the lead actress, as always, is impressive.
The Young Victoria (2009)
Elizabeth II’s great grandmother Queen Victoria wasn’t always the little old lady in black that we’ve come to known through those famous Judi Dench films. She was once a beautiful teenager, used as a political pawn by her family. Jean-Marc Vallee did a fantastic job casting Emily Blunt in the lush biopic, which charts her rise to the throne and her arranged marriage with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who would eventually become the love of her life.
Mrs. Brown (1997)
Fast forward decades later, and Queen Victoria is still ruling England. This time, she is played by Dame Judi Dench, who was rightfully awarded an Oscar nomination for playing this British monarch. Albert has long died, and Victoria has been mourning for years, retiring from royal appearances and asking the entire court to wear only black in her presence. Enter Mr. John Brown (Billy Connolly), a former employee of Albert, who is hired by the court to help the Queen with her grief. As they become close friends and confidants, scandal arise and rumors spread that Mr. Brown may be more than the Queen’s servant.
Victoria & Abdul (2017)
After the turbulent Mr. Brown and Queen Victoria episode, the British Queen goes back into her old habits of mourning. During the celebration of her Golden Jubilee, a representative from India named Abdul (Ali Fazal) is sent to London to present the Queen with gifts. Victoria is smitten by the charm of the young man, and begins to favor him. He eventually becomes her lifelong friend and close advisor. But to the court’s dismay, it seems like a repeat of the whole Mr. Brown debacle and is eager to do everything they can to remove Abdul. Judi Dench reprises her role as Queen Victoria. A sequel 20 years in the making, she still shines with her unparalleled performance.
The Crown portrayed the lives of former King Edward and American socialite Wallis Simpson in their older years. This Madonna-directed biopic (yes, you read that right), focuses primarily on Simpson’s side of the story, and what lead her to her decision in asking the King to abdicate his throne (allowing his brother Albert, Elizabeth II’s dad, to rule). Although the film isn’t particularly great, Andrea Riseborough plays Simpson well. Opulent costumes and beautiful set pieces also makes it a treat for the eyes. Just ignore those random scenes with Abbie Cornish, who plays a New Yorker in the 2000s, obsessed with the royal love story while Sotheby’s auctions off Simpson’s prized possessions.
The King’s Speech (2010)
The Oscar’s Best Picture of 2010 also landed lead actor Colin Firth a golden boy of his own. He plays Albert, who is known to the public as King George VI, who reigned from 1936 until his death in 1952, leaving the Crown to his young daughter, Elizabeth II. The King’s Speech focuses primarily on the early days of World War II, as George ascends into the throne. Although he looks like a quintessential king, George suffers from a speech impediment. His wife, the Queen-Mother Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham-Carter) then hires a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to help her husband overcome his stammer. The pressure is on for King George, who needs his voice to show true leadership during a crucial time in history.
TIP: The King’s Speech kicks off the events of The Crown, so it may be good to marathon that next. EXTRA VIEWING: The Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour (2017) shows the relationship between the Prime Minster and King George during the war.
The Queen (2006)
Enter the modern age royals we are all currently obsessing over. One of the very best portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II is by Helen Mirren, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in this 2006 film. In fact, Peter Morgan (the movie’s screenwriter) was so inspired by Mirren playing the Queen in his play that he decided to write The Crown. We’re sure this period in Elizabeth’s life will eventually be portrayed in the NETFLIX original series during later seasons. It follows the Queen’s struggle to react to the sudden death of Princess Diana. As fans around the world mourn, the Queen’s popularity begins to dip as the people lose faith in the “stoic and heartless monarchy”. With the help of a newly appointed prime minister, the young and dynamic Tony Blair (Michel Sheen), Elizabeth may have hope to save the Crown. But will the traditionalist listen to him in the first place?