Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Queen Elizabeth II is certainly a popular subject in film and on TV lately.  I wonder what she herself thinks about all the dramatizations of her life?  I was very interested to receive a copy of the recent Channel 4 miniseries, The Queen to learn even more about the life of this long-serving monarch.

I was expecting this to be just a dramatization of various points in the life of the queen, but I was pleasantly surprised by the format of this program.  Five different actresses portray the queen at different ages, and important events are dramatized.  The introduction to each episode states "The drama is imagined."  I think they imagined a bit too far in one episode, as the queen is shown doing the washing up while having a cosy chat with the current prime minister.  Somehow, I don't think "we" do washing up ourselves!  Aside from the re-created scenes, there are also interviews with people who were involved with the events, archival footage, and a narrator tying all the events together.  So the series isn't a straightforward dramatic telling of the story as I had imagined.

The five episodes in the series look to especially stressful or difficult times in the queen's life.

Episode 1: Sisters  This episode looks at the early relationship of Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret just after the death of their father, King George VI.  After being crowned queen, Elizabeth was surrounded by the mostly elderly male advisers who had worked with her father.  Margaret fell in love with a divorced man, and the queen faced her first crisis in attempting to persuade her sister to avoid this potentially explosive match.

Episode 2: Us and Them  Events from 1969 to 1975 are covered.  In those years, the UK was in economic upheaval.  It was beset by strikes, IRA bombings and demands to abolish the monarchy.  Amidst all this, the queen had to ask for more money from the government to continue to run her increasingly expensive household.  The country is briefly united for the wedding of Princess Anne, but even this turns out badly when she becomes the target of a botched kidnapping.

Episode 3: The Rivals  This turned out to be my favorite episode, mainly because I hadn't realized (or had forgotten) that there was such tension between the queen and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Their icy relationship was mainly caused by Mrs. Thatcher's refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa, which the queen feared would cause the break-up of the Commonwealth.

Episode 4: The Enemy Within  The queen's famous annus horribilis (1992) is played out in all its gory glory, from the divorces of her children to the fire at Windsor Castle to tax problems.  Can't a queen get a break?

Episode 5: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Camilla? The queen must struggle with her son, Prince Charles, over his decision to marry his mistress Camilla Parker Bowles.  Princess Diana had given television interviews blaming Camilla for the break-up of her marriage, so the queen was not especially eager to give her blessing to the union.

I was surprised to see the Queen portrayed as forever reading tabloid newspapers and taking note of opinion polls on the future of the monarchy.  I suppose when your livelihood depends upon "the affection of the public" that it pays to keep up with their moods!

I really enjoyed this series.  It provided a fascinating look behind one scenes at the life of one of the most famous women in the world.  She never had a choice about whether or not to be queen, and she certainly had to endure more than her fair share of controversies and tragedies.  She has still managed to maintain an air of dignity and grace that probably few of us could match!

Thanks to Alyssa at Acorn Media, I have a copy of The Queen to give away!  To enter, just leave a comment naming your favorite member (past or present) of the British royal family.  Be sure that your email is in your comment or in your profile (if you have a blog) so I can contact you. Open only to the U.S. Ends Oct. 22, so get to commentin'!  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, or I will have to choose another winner.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a review copy and a giveaway copy of the DVD.

Pop a ciggy in her hand, and you've got Dot Cotton!
Final Verdict for The Queen Four Gherkins, for being a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a royal life


Jon Trouten said...

I'm all about Prince Harry! :P

Rebecca Graham said...

I like William.

agordon10 said...

Prince Edward.

Amber said...

Prince William is my favorite!
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Nicole C. said...

My favorite from now is Prince William. My favorite from the past was Princess Di!


Min K said...

I vote for Charles.

toughturtles said...


EBJ said...


clc408 said...

My favorite is William. He seems to have a lot of his mother in him.

Bacallsmom said...

Assuming this includes historical members of the royal family, I would say Queen Victoria--the history of her life is exceptionally interesting, from a personal and political standpoint.

bbentry [at] aol [dot] com

mmentor said...

sign me up

Brenda, The Über Urbanite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda P said...

Princess Diana, look at how her sons turned out, being down to earth and very helpful to others.

Jessica said...

Prince Harry is my current favorite - something about that hair and face!

Vgrlfrnd said...


skitter said...

I think Princess Diana was a very special person.

Bebe said...

Thanks for the great contest. I'd love to win the video. Queen Victoria is my favorite royal of all time!
Bebe :)

Hotsnotty2 said...

I love William, thanks!

Erica C. said...

I'm a fan of Prince William too.

Anonymous said...

Princess Diana!

liliesrnice said...

prince william

Homemaker said...

Princess Diana by far.

naynays1 said...

My favorite from the past was Princess Di!

Anonymous said...

I'm still in awe of the Queen and would so love to have these DVD's.

zameta3 at gmail dot com

tallcapp said...

The British do these kind of shows the best. I find the current Queen to be a fascinating as well as enigmatic person.

SalanderServant said...

Princess Diana, she and her loving efforts for the world are sorely missed.

fatally_flayed at yahoo dot com

Atreau said...

The Queen Mum!

Anonymous said...

So far, Prince William seems okay. (That's the best.)

flashlight13114 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Auriette said...

Queen Victoria is fascinating to me.

kathy pease said...

i would have to say princess di was my fav i still remember the day she died it was so shocking :(

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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