Queen Elizabeth II Through the Camera Lens


September 8th, 2022 marked an important date in history, as it was the day Queen Elizabeth II passed away. She was the longest-reigning monarch in Britain, with 70 years and 214 days on the throne, as well as the longest-reigning female monarch in the world. Elizabeth II was crowned at the age of 25 after the death of her father and reigned through many defining historical moments. These include the decolonization of Africa, the entrance and withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union, multiple wars, and the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in seeing her life showcased on screen, here are some of the best documentaries and historical dramas about Queen Elizabeth II…




A Queen Is Crowned (1953 | film | Prime Video or Roku Channel)

This is an early documentary containing footage of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation that is narrated by Laurence Olivier. Using Technicolor technology, it is the only color film of her coronation, and it really brings the splendor of the ceremony to life. A Queen Is Crowned was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work (2007 | 5-episode miniseries | Prime Video)

This BBC series was produced as a part of the Queen’s 80th birthday celebration and gives a unique insight into the life of the British Royal Family over the course of a year. Each episode follows a different event or exhibits a different correspondence between the family and the public. Monarchy really gives a never-seen-before perspective into the political and personal operations occurring in Queen Elizabeth II’s everyday life, while also highlighting the many personnel who make sure everything runs smoothly. 


Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen (2022 | film | BBC Select)

Using unseen footage and home movies, this documentary seeks to express who Queen Elizabeth II really was. It is compiled from 400 reels of moments like her getting pushed in a pram by her mother, her trip on the HMS Vanguard in 1947, her engagement, and her taking care of Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Even body language experts are called in to share what the Queen was thinking and feeling, bringing the audience closer to her than ever.


Historical dramas:


The Queen (2006 | film | HBO Max)

The Queen is a biographical drama that follows the events occurring after Princess Diana’s death. In particular, it depicts the disagreement between prime minister Tony Blair and the Queen in how the Princess of Wales should be mourned by Buckingham Palace. It gives an inside look into British politics and how Queen Elizabeth II originally mishandled the national tragedy. 


A Royal Night Out (2015 | film | Prime Video)

Taking place on the evening of V.E. Day of 1945, this romantic-comedy-drama follows young Princess Elizabeth and Margaret as they take part in the wild celebrations across London. While many of the events and a few of the characters are fictionalized, the two princesses really did leave Buckingham Palace that night and join the local festivities, so this movie is a fun imagining of them letting loose with the rest of Britain. 


The Crown (2016 | 5-season series | Netflix)

This series is currently the most well-known piece of media about Queen Elizabeth II and is also one of the most expensive television programs ever produced. Based on a play, this historical drama illustrates the Queen’s life from the 1940s to the modern day. It begins with her ascension to the throne and covers many important moments and events since, whose themes range from romance to politics. One unique thing about The Crown is that the actors are cycled out every few seasons to represent the aging of characters as time passes.


So if you’re interested in learning more about the woman who had been on the British throne since before you were born, look no further than this list! 


Article and Art: Sarah Moloney