List

Royal Movies, Part One

By Cecilia Cygnar

Of the many films made about princes and kings, princesses and queens, these are the ones that I believe should be at the top of any royal watch list. Part one focuses on British royals.

  • Diana

    What looked from the outside like a real-life fairy tale, Diana, Princess of Wales' story was far from "happily ever after." She had more trouble than anyone (especially her husband) expected with switching over from ordinary human to one of the most revered women on the planet. This film documents a short period of Diana's ill-fated life, where she is trying to move on post-Prince Charles and finding it harder than she ever imagined.

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  • The Queen

    2007

    Before Diana, even before Princess Grace (Kelly), Elizabeth II was there. Becoming Queen of the United Kingdom upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, Queen Elizabeth is the monarch most people know. This movie gives a fictional telling of a week in her life after Diana's death in 1997. Many people thought how she handled that period would be her downfall. Well, that's been almost 23 years ago and she's still going strong. Downfall? Never!

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  • Her Majesty

    2006

    An opportunity to see Queen Elizabeth II when she's on a tour in New Zealand is too good an opportunity to pass up for a 13-year-old girl. In the midst of the frenzy, she meets an older local outcast who befriends her. A truly charming and endearing film, with a simple story, refreshing characters, and a sweet message of friendship.

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  • A Royal Night Out

    2016

    When Queen Elizabeth was still Princess Elizabeth, she and her sister Margaret wanted to spend one night like regular, normal, non-royal young ladies. And if you're going to pick a night, pick the night of VE Day in London...where the streets are filled with celebration and where a young princess might just be able to fit into the fun and festivities without notice.

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  • The King's Speech

    2011

    Elizabeth II's father, Bertie, was not expecting to be King. After all, his brother was the heir. Bertie was quite happy in the background. When his brother fell in love with a divorced American, Bertie was suddenly thrust into the spotlight as King George VI. One problem: since childhood, he suffered from a debilitating stutter. And the King needed to be letter perfect. What to do?

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  • Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture

    2019

    Bertie's parents, King George V and Queen Mary, plan a visit to Downton Abbey, which sets into a tizzy the above-stairs Earl and Countess of Grantham, as well as their daughters and son-in-law, and the below-stairs staff, led by Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Even in the world of an Earl, a visit from the King and Queen is a pretty big deal.

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  • The Young Victoria

    2010

    George V's grandmother, Queen Victoria, was the original long-reigning monarch. She was Queen of the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1901. This film tells the fictionalized story of her early life: how she coped with being a young leader, falling in love with her arranged husband, Prince Albert, and juggling family life with reigning over a country and commonwealth.

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  • Mrs. Brown

    2000

    After Prince Albert's death, Queen Victoria spiraled into the depths of despair. To pull her back to the world of the living, her staff ask one of Albert's servants to befriend her. It worked a bit too well. Soon all of the royal courtiers were scrambling to pull them apart. This film is mostly known for kick-starting Judi Dench's film career. For even more of Dench as Queen Victoria, watch Victoria and Abdul, where Dench plays Victoria even later in life and is once again charmed by a gentleman.

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  • The Madness of King George

    2017

    Victoria's grandfather, King George III, was the monarch during notable periods of history, most famously the Revolutionary War. Sadly, though, he is not known for that as much as he is known for his mental illness later in life. This film documents that period of his reign, when he was doing less ruling and more playing. Written by playwright Alan Bennett, who infuses this serious subject with a good deal of British humor.

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  • The Favourite

    2019

    Half a century before George III, there was Queen Anne, a frail, delicate woman plagued with illness and bad health throughout her life. This film looks at two woman who are vying to be Anne's court favorite. Be prepared for a witty, outlandish and at times, over-the-top plot. If you like conventional historical tales, expect to be surprised with this movie that is anything but conventional!

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  • Elizabeth

    2007

    Before Elizabeth II. Before VIctoria. There was Elizabeth I. Much like The Young Victoria, this one could be called The Young Elizabeth, since it is also a look at the life of the young, fledgling royal who is coping with the daily life of being a monarch at such a young age. By far the best thing about this film is Cate Blanchett's fierce and fiery performance.

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  • A Man for All Seasons

    1998

    Elizabeth's dad, King Kenry VIII, we know had a penchant for the ladies...and beheading the ladies. This film is less about the wives and more about the politics around Henry VIII's reign. Though, of course, his love for women was behind the politics...in order for him to marry his latest love Anne Boleyn, Henry needed a way to legally end his marriage to his wife Catherine of Aragon.

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  • The Lion in Winter

    2001

    One of Henry VIII's predecessors, King Henry II lost his eldest son and now must decide which of his remaining two sons should be king. Watch this one for the performances of Katharine Hepburn as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and Peter O'Toole as Henry II. Hepburn won the third of her four Oscars for her portrayal as Eleanor.

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