Film and Plot Synopsis
In the film The Queen we witness the reaction of Britain’s Royal Family and that of newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair in the immediate aftermath of Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. As far as the Queen is concerned, Diana’s death is a private matter given that she is no longer Her Royal Highness.
Blair, however, realizes that the public views her differently, feeling the loss of the “People’s Princess”, as he calls her. Tucked away at Balmoral, their Scottish retreat, the Royal Family appears oblivious to the public’s reaction. Soon, however, public opinion turns against them, forcing Blair to offer stern and not necessarily welcome advice.
‘The Queen’ Movie Summary
As the world grieves for the popular princess, a problem occurs on how Diana’s death, and funeral, will be addressed, as the princess and the mother of a future king is no longer a member of the royal family. While Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) is dispatched to retrieve Diana’s body, the monarchy fails to make a pronouncement after her death. Tony Blair encourages Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) to have a public funeral, for the benefit of the citizens of Great Britain. However, the Queen is adamant that the funeral will be a private, family matter, and she will not agree to a public funeral.
Blair addresses the nation concerning Diana’s death, referring to her as the “People’s Princess”. Blair is widely praised for his understanding of the general feeling of the citizens of the country. There is an overwhelming outpouring of grief by the general public in the form of floral tributes at Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. That outpouring of grief is beginning to manifest itself as anger and frustration directed at the Queen and her family. Blair meets Prince Charles at the airport when he returns from Paris with Diana’s body. Prince Charles agrees with Blair that there should be a public funeral.
Eventually, the Queen agrees to a public funeral. However, she begins to feel that Blair, with his modernization agenda, is attempting to apply that towards the royal family. The media is also constantly attacking the Queen and her family for their handling of Diana’s death. At the same time, the senior members of the royal family, including the Queen and her husband Prince Phillip (James Cromwell), make no effort to acknowledge Diana’s significance to society and remain on holiday at Balmoral.
Due to the Queen’s inaction, the royal family’s popularity craters, while Blair’s approval rises as he responds to the public outcry of inaction by the royal family. Blair makes several attempts to try to “guide” the royal family through the controversy but is constantly met by resistance. The Queen’s private secretary understands that the people are turning against the royal family and encourages Blair, behind the scenes, to continue to try to move the Queen off her positions. When the general public begins to favor abolishing the monarchy, the Queen comes to realize that the world has changed during her reign, and for the monarchy to survive, she may have to give in.
Against the advice of her husband and the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms), Queen Elizabeth decides to follow the advice of Blair and returns to London. The royal family views the floral tributes left in honor of Diana at Buckingham Palace. When Blair’s staff starts to celebrate the new prime minister’s political victory, Blair chastises his staff that they don’t understand the Queen at all. He tells them that the Queen has dedicated her life to her country and the royal family, and now she is being forced to publicly praise a woman who embarrassed the royal family and who spent the last few years of her life publicly condemning the monarchy.
The Queen pays public tribute on live television to Diana’s significance to the nation and society. The royal family even attends the public funeral for Diana at Westminster Abbey. It is estimated that more than two million lined the streets for her funeral.
Two months later, the Queen and Blair meet again for the first time since the funeral and exchange views on what has occurred since their last meeting. The Queen cautions the prime minister that, just as public opinion has changed about how the royal family should react to a New Britain, he may find himself in the same position of changing public opinion. The Queen also expresses how difficult it was for her to have the country against her. The two leaders of Great Britain find a new understanding of each other and begin to work to build a more modern country.
The Queen was nominated for six Academy Awards in 2006, including Best Picture, Best Director (Stephen Frears), Best Original Screenplay (Peter Morgan), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Best Costume Design (Consolata Boyle). Helen Mirren won the Best Actress Academy Award.
Additional Film Information
- The Queen official website
- Peruse IMDb’s article on The Queen
- Learn more The Queen information at Wikipedia
- Get The Queen numbers at Box Office Mojo
- Find out what people think about The Queen at Metacritic
- Read The Queen reviews from the folks at Rotten Tomatoes