The Portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in Pop Culture, From ‘The Crown’ to ‘SNL’

Queen Elizabeth II’s death is truly a historical marker: During her nearly 70-year reign, she saw great changes in society, her country, and the world.

And during her seven decades on the throne, which ended on September 8, 2022, when she died aged 96, Elizabeth was also around to see the world reflect her life behind her. (Assuming it was tuned, that is.) It’s been portrayed numerous times in movies and TV shows, including the Emmy-winning drama “The Crown,” a show that took three major actors to survive.

Follow our live blog for continuous updates after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

But when it comes to playing the late queen, which actresses have really risen to the ranks of royalty? In honor of the monarch, we’re taking a look at some of the best portrayals of all time, giving them a special suit — and a generous royal wave.

Claire Foy/Olivia Colman/Imelda Staunton, “The Crown”

Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton play Queen Elizabeth II

The Netflix hit series has so far won an Emmy for Foy, who played the young Elizabeth, and Coleman, who played her in her middle years. Staunton debuts in the upcoming fifth season.

The series shows the queen as compassionate in her youth, stepping into a role she never expected to take on, and then in her older years embracing the conformity her role demands – at the expense of her offspring and, possibly, himself of the crown.

Helen Mirren, “The Queen”

Helen Mirren portrayed the monarch in it

Helen Mirren portrayed the monarch in it

Hollywood loves Mirren like royalty. She has played Elizabeth I and Queen Charlotte, but is best known for her Oscar-winning turn in the 2006 film which saw her trying to cope with and understand the volume of public outcry over her former daughter-in-law’s death. Princess Diana. Mirren later played Queen Elizabeth II again in The Audience.

Stella Gonet, “Spencer”

Stella Gonet as Queen Elizabeth II

Stella Gonet as Queen Elizabeth II

Although she doesn’t get much screen time, Gonet’s Elizabeth II has a presence that looms large throughout the film, which focuses on the “People’s Princess” in the days of Diana’s marriage to Charles. She is a veteran actress in the UK, but largely unknown to American audiences. However, she has appeared in shows like “Humans” and “The Crown.”

Jeannette Charles, various films

Jeannette Charles played Queen Elizabeth II in several films.  (NBC, Alamy)

Jeannette Charles played Queen Elizabeth II in several films. (NBC, Alamy)

“Austin Powers in Goldmember.” “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”. The list goes on.

Just a year younger than the real Queen Elizabeth II, Charles (who looks a lot like her) has been Elizabeth’s favorite impersonator since the mid-1970s and has almost no other roles on her resume. Her last role was in 2010.

Jane Alexander, “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance”

Jane Alexander stars as Queen Elizabeth II

Jane Alexander stars as Queen Elizabeth II

Hallmark’s take on the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton was a sweet look at how the future king found his soulmate. It aired in 2011 with Alexander, the rare American to play the royal, as a future grandmother.

Fred Armisen, “Saturday Night Live”

Fred Armisen plays Queen Elizabeth II in a skit from

Fred Armisen plays Queen Elizabeth II in a skit from

The long-running sketch comedy show preferred to have men play the queen (Jeannette Charles and Joan Cusack being the exceptions), with Jon Lovitz and Mike Myers taking the crown during their slots on “SNL.” Later, Armisen had several sketches under his belt as a repulsive version of Elizabeth.

Maggie Sullivan, “Harry & Meghan”

Maggie Sullivun as Queen Elizabeth II and Tiffany Smith as Meghan Markle in

Maggie Sullivun as Queen Elizabeth II and Tiffany Smith as Meghan Markle in

If Jane Alexander was queen for William’s romantic adventure, Sullivan stepped in when Lifetime decided to tackle Prince Harry’s fling with Meghan Markle in three movies: “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” “Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal’ and ‘Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace’, the latter of which aired in September 2021.

Barbara Flynn/Samantha Bond/Emilia Fox/Susan Jameson/Diana Quick, “The Queen”

The DVD cover for

The DVD cover for

“The Crown” has its perfect queens, but a 2009 British documentary that followed the highs and lows during Elizabeth’s reign cast at least five actresses as queens.

Emma Thompson, “Playhouse Presents”

British actress Emma Thompson plays Queen Elizabeth II

British actress Emma Thompson plays Queen Elizabeth II

For a 2012 episode of the British series, called “Walking the Dogs,” Thompson became the queen in a rare private moment, in a fictional story by Michael Fagan, who broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and had an extended conversation with the queen in her bedchamber. (“The Crown” also told this story in a 2020 episode with Colman.)

Special mention: Peter Morgan

AFI FEST 2019 Presented by Audi –

AFI FEST 2019 Presented by Audi –

Now, author Morgan never portrayed Queen Elizabeth II, but writing about her was in his wheelhouse for at least 15 years – and few others can be held more responsible for the modern perception of Elizabeth than he. Along with writing “The Crown,” Morgan also wrote 2006’s “The Queen” and later “The Audience,” a play, starring Mirren in its original run, about Elizabeth’s encounters with her various premiers which ran in London’s West End and on Broadway.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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