The legacy of Queen Elizabeth in film, television and fashion

The Tufts Daily
Queen Elizabeth II is pictured.(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Ryan Fairfield

With a heavy heart, the British royal family announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8. Elizabeth Windsor served as the longest reigning monarch in British history, ascending the throne at age 26 and served as the monarch for 70 years, from 1952 to 2022. Queen Elizabeth leaves behind a legacy, not just through her royal duties and accomplishments, but in fashion, film and her public persona captured by the media. 

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first coronation to be televised, with over 20 million viewers. This marked a major turning point for the monarchy since this was the first coronation the public could watch, showing the young queen’s willingness to move forward with the times.

Throughout her reign, the queen connected with the public through the use of television, much of which was received well. Whether it was her formal, annual Christmas speech; the sketch of her with Daniel Craig as James Bond for the 2012 London Olympics; or in June 2022 her appearance alongside Paddington Bear in a video of her enjoying tea and a marmalade sandwich to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, the queen allowed herself to be a source of entertainment and laughter for the British public outside of her more formal monarchal duties.

The queen also left behind a lasting impact on the fashion industry. Like fashion icons such as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, Queen Elizabeth had a very distinct fashion sense — one she wore like a uniform, sticking with a similar style throughout the decades but one that also changed with the times and evolved. A notable theme with Queen Elizabeth’s clothing was that it was always elegant and feminine, showing the world that her femininity was a source of pride and power and proving to the world that she could be just as good a monarch as any king. Her most iconic looks include the blue dress and jacket embellished with crystals that she wore at the Richard Quinn fashion show during London Fashion Week in 2018 and the beautiful yellow hat decorated with silk roses for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, and her fashion will continue to influence designers in decades to come.

Queen Elizabeth’s life has also impacted the film and entertainment industry. Already, countless movies, documentaries and shows have been produced following her life, and now after her death, there will likely be more to come. When thinking about entertainment about Queen Elizabeth, two pieces stand out — “The Queen” (2006) and “The Crown” (2016–).  In “The Queen,” Dame Helen Mirren, who was given the title in 2003, three years prior to the film’s 2006 release, stars as Queen Elizabeth in the events following Princess Diana’s 1997 death. Mirren won an Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe for her portrayal and recently took to Instagram to pay tribute to the queen, saying, “I am proud to be an Elizabethan. We mourn a woman, who, with or without the crown, was the epitome of nobility.” 

In “The Crown,” Queen Elizabeth has been portrayed by two, soon to be three, actresses: Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton. Foy played the queen in the first two seasons and received the Emmy nomination for the first season and won for the second season. Following Foy, Colman took over the role and similarly received a nomination for the third season and won for the fourth. Staunton will be the third and final actress playing the queen in “The Crown,” with her first season, season 5, which is slated for release in November 2022.

Though “The Crown” has caused controversy due to critics’ claims that historical inaccuracies are prevalent in the show, the show has been successful in showing the life of British royals and garnered much praise. Peter Morgan, the writer of both “The Crown” and “The Queen,” has called the show “a love letter to [Queen Elizabeth].” Out of respect for her passing, Morgan has announced that production for season 6 of “The Crown,” will halt for a period of time. This plan has been in place since the show first aired and Morgan stated that he had conversations with the cast and crew saying that in the event of the death of the queen, production would stop as “a simple tribute and a mark of respect.”

As the United Kingdom and countless countries across the globe mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, many can find comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on, not just through the monarchy itself, but through the works of art and media that she inspired throughout her long reign.

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