Much has been written about the Queen this weekend, the paradox of her being the most public figure in the world, and yet one with so little known about her day-to-day existence, what makes her laugh or frown.
Of course, this kind of existence – the centre of the UK’s political intrigue, the soap operas of romance, never mind the timelessly elegant shoes and hats - is tantalising nectar for the Hollywood bees, and a tantalising challenge for any actress wanting to exert her acting chops.
As we know, the fairytale romances we see on the palace balconies, the T-towels and the crockery don’t always bear closer scrutiny, and these cracks in the façade have made for mind-bogglingly dramatic screen fare.
And even for those royal ladies who’ve managed to avoid the pitfalls of a high-profile union, there are, instead, Prime Ministers, military rivals and even enemies in the court cloisters to manage – all good epic stuff.
To mark HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, here’s a glance at some of the most striking portrayals of female royalty on screen, with our own rating of how successful these actresses were at capturing the essential ingredient that keeps us watching…
Who’s your favourite?
Helen Mirren took on the challenge of portraying HM Queen Elizabeth II, at the most vulnerable time of her entire reign - the extraordinary week following the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales. Her gentle, understated depiction caught the fragility of the Queen, and won Dame Helen an Oscar, for which she thanked the real Queen in her speech. (Photo: Pathe) <strong>Royal Rating: 9</strong>
Rare photographs of the UK's longest-reigning monarch Queen Victoria show a solemn woman dressed in black. The Young Victoria told us a different story, of a feisty young woman (played by Emily Blunt) falling deeply, and permanently, in love with her shy cousin Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). (Photo: Sony Pictures) <strong>Royal Rating: 7</strong>
Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar, for which her acceptance speech must have taken about the same time she spent on screen as Elizabeth I in <em>Shakespeare in Love.</em> It was a striking performance, obviously, as she compared her political sacrifices with the romantic ones being made around her. (Photo: Universal) <strong>Royal Rating: 4</strong>
Cate Blanchett was relatively unknown when she was given the title role in the first of the Elizabeth films. By the time she played her again, director Shekhar Kapur gave her a whiff of romance with her known favourite Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), but also used Blanchett's new off-screen motherhood to explore the challenges of "unconditional love" that the Queen enjoyed, in theory. (Photo: Universal) <strong>Royal Rating: 9</strong>
As <em>Mrs Brown</em>, Judi Dench had a lot more screen-time, and hopefully fun, exploring the history of Queen Victoria who, despite losing her beloved Albert at a young age, still managed to have some fun, whatever the photos might tell us. In the film, her widow's weeds didn't stop her having highland jaunts with her Balmoral servant Mr Brown (Billy Connolly). To say their friendship raised eyebrows would be an understatement. (Photo: Ecosse) <strong>Royal Rating: 6</strong>
Considered to be one of the definitive royal portrayals, Glenda Jackson went to great lengths - even shaving her hairline back to create an extended forehead - to bring Elizabeth R to television in 1971. The acclaimed mini-series concentrated on the court intrigues centring around a suitable marital match for the young monarch, and how she confounded them all. (Photo: BBC) <strong>Royal Rating: 10</strong>
LLess political intrigue, but just as scandalous - Lucy Cohu played the Queen's younger sibling Margaret Rose, in Channel 4's controversial <em>The Queen's Sister.</em> The drama showed how Margaret would give the young royal hell-raisers a run for their money, matching her one-time husband Lord Snowdown (Toby Stephens) drink for drink, and stopping to be filmed in a clinch with another woman. (Photo: Channel 4) <strong>Royal Rating: 5</strong>
Just imagine if the present Queen bestowed her favours like the shameless Queen Elizabeth I, as played by Miranda Richardson in <em>Blackadder II. </em>By turn girly, flirtatious, capricious and ruthless, Queenie enjoyed the sight of a feckless Blackadder courting her approval, as long as she had her beloved Nursie by her side. (Photo: BBC) Royal Rating: <strong>1 or 10, depending on how you look at it.</strong>
One of the most controversial figures in the history of the Royal Family, Wallis Simpson brought the whole monarchy into disarray when Edward VIII decided he couldn't reign without the divorcee by his side, and so threw in the Abdication towel in 1936. Although the Queen Mother famously never forgave her, Wallis has more recently enjoyed a more favourable rap, not least in Madonna's film W.E. (DVD now available), which showed the American to be an unhappy, noble woman trapped in a whirlpool beyond her control. (Photo: Optimum) <strong>Royal Rating: A surprising 7 1/2, due to Andrea Riseborough's sympathethic, subtle portrayal </strong>
Talking of subtle, here it is.. the piece de resistance, a shameless, harmless bit of bandwagon-jumping. To coincide with last year's Royal Wedding, we saw the release of <em>Kate and William: The Movie</em>, which showed Miss Middleton, strangely played by an American, to be a young lady sure of her own worth, the only one who didn't notice Wills alongside her at University, but whose mother was canny enough to get her in nightclubs and the papers, when it looked like Wills was having a wobble. Worth watching just for Ben Cross's "interpretation" of Prince Charles. (Photo: Silver Screen) <strong>Royal Rating: 2</strong>