Top 10 British Royalty in Films and Series

Top 10: British Royalty in Films and Series

The British monarchy has been, and will always be, a great source for film and television. So if you love yourself some kings, queens and a lot of drama, you’re set for life. These true historical events (although always dramatized) starring British royalty make plotlines writers can’t come up with on their best days.

If you have bingewatched Netflix’ The Crown like I have, you’ll want more Elizabeth, Victoria, the first Elizabeth and maybe even some Henry’s and George’s just for fun. So to make it easier for you, here is a top 10 of the best drama’s (there really isn’t any other genre) starring British royalty. These are all must sees so go ahead and clear your next weekends.

1. The Crown (2017 – present)

Top 10 British Royalty: The CrownMonarch: Queen Elizabeth II
Years on screen: 1947 – 1955

Maybe the above statement is untrue and you haven’t seen Netflix’ The Crown yet. The newest show on this list certainly deserves a place on it, since it’s that good. All the high praise from critics is much deserved. The Crown only has ten episodes, so you’re done with this relatively fast. The series starts with the marriage of Elizabeth II and ends with the resignation of Winston Churcill and the impending Suez Crisis. The Windsors have never been this interesting. The cast is brilliant with most noteworthy Claire Foy as the young Queen Elizabeth. Recently, Michael C. Hall was cast as John F. Kennedy for season 2, which will be with us soon, hopefully.

2. The King’s Speech (2010)

Top 10 British Royalty: The King's SpeechMonarch: King George VI
Years on screen: 1934 – 1939

This amazing film follows the speech impediment of King George VI, who suffered from severe stuttering. While ofcourse not 100% true to facts, The King’s Speech is actually based on massive research on the writers part (who stuttered as a child himself) and notebooks from Lionel Logue, the kings speech therapist. The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Colin Firth as King George VI), and Best Original Screenplay. As in The Crown, George VI is depicted as a sympathetic man who seems more normal than royal. Maybe that is because he was never really destined to become king, which makes him feel relatable.


3. Elizabeth (1998)

Top 10 British Royalty: ElizabethMonarch: Queen Elizabeth I
Years on screen: 1558 – 1560

A lot of films and tv-series are dedicated to (the era of) Elizabeth. This is probably one of the best to see, in no small part thanks to Cate Blanchett who was nominated for an Oscar for her role. As with her namesake in The Crown, this film shows how the young queen came to rule. But where Elizabeth II was destined to become queen, this Elizabeth wasn’t so sure of that, with her mother being Anne Boleyn and her (half-) siblings claimed the throne. The film is a treat to watch as the sets, cinematography and costumes are all amazing, as is the acting. In 2007 the lesser sequel Elizabeth: the Golden Age came out, also with Blanchett in the lead.

4. The Tudors (2007 – 2010)

Top 10 British Royalty: The TudorsMonarch: Henry VIII
Years on screen: 1518 – 1547

Ah, Henry VIII and his six wives. That fact alone makes for some dramatic television. Henry certainly didn’t look anything like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but the actor portrays the famous king with flair. The show had high ratings and still attracts new viewers thanks to Netflix. Also, this is the show that gave the amazing Natalie Dormer her big breakthrough as Anne Boleyn. The Tudors takes many liberties with history and especially the timeline is a lot faster than how it happened in real life. Creator Michael Hirst explained this: “Showtime commissioned me to write an entertainment, a soap opera, and not history … And we wanted people to watch it. […] Any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures.”


5. The Queen (2006)

Top 10 British Royalty: The QueenMonarch: Queen Elizabeth II
Year on screen: 1997

1997 was a hard year for Queen Elizabeth. Her former daughter-in-law Princes Diana died as a result of a dramatic accident while being chased by the paparazzi. The public thought it took too long for the queen to make an official announcement about Diana’s death. It lightly tore apart the royal family and politics. As a result the popularity of the monarchy declined. The Queen adresses these issues, with Helen Mirren as the Queen and Michael Sheen as relatively new prime minister Tony Blair. Mirren won, amongst other prizes, a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award for her role. Writer Peter Morgan went on to create The Crown. There’s a lot of love for Lizzy with him.



 6. Elizabeth I (2005)

Top 10 British Royalty: Elizabeth IMonarch: Queen Elizabeth I
Years on screen: 1579 – 1603

Elizabeth I is such an interesting person, there could be  a new film or serie about her almost every year and it would still be original. (The same of course can be said about her mother Anne Boleyn) This is a two-part miniseries with (here she is again) Helen Mirren as the queen. Part one starts in 1579, so it doesn’t focus on the first years of her reign as many of the other stories do. The second part begins ten years later in 1589 and ends with her death. Maybe this is not the best known drama about Elizabeth I but it certainly belongs on this list as the cast is amazing and the story great.


7. The Young Victoria (2009)

Top 10 British Royalty: The Young VictoriaMonarch: Queen Victoria
Years on screen: 1836 – 1840

Before Elizabeth II became the longest ruling monarch in British history, Queen Victoria had that title. This film focuses on (the title kinda gives it away) the early years of Princess and later Queen Victoria and her suitor and later husband Albert. Writer Julian Fellowes wanted to make his movie as historical correct as possible. Consequently, Historian Alex von Tunzelmann said the film is “historically not at all bad” which is quite a compliment for a historical movie. Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend star as the famous Victoria and Albert and have a lot of chemistry together. With a running time of just 105 minutes, this is one of the quickest watches on this list, so maybe start with The Young Victoria.



8. Victoria (2016 – present)

Top 10 British Royalty: VictoriaMonarch: Queen Victoria
Years on screen: 1837 – ?

If The Young Victoria left you craving for more Victoria and Albert in their early years, go and see this ITV miniseries. Star Jenna Coleman famously left Doctor Who to take on the role of Queen Victoria. The first season contains only eight episodes, so this too is a quick watch. It starts with Queen Victoria ascending the throne and ends with the birth of her first child, daughter Victoria (british royalty seems to be stuck with only a given amount of names) A second season and Christmas special are both in order and are set to air this year. The same as with The Crown, the creators want to make six seasons in total. It’s not yet clear how long Coleman will go on to play Queen Victoria.

9. Wolf Hall (2015)

Top 10 British Royalty: Wolf HallMonarch: King Henry VIII
Years on screen: 1529 – 1536

Where The Tudors had King Henry VIII and his wives as main characters, Wolf Hall focuses on Thomas Cromwell and his rise to power, so while it focusses on British royalty, the main character isn’t royal. Cromwell was there to help engineer the annulment of Henry’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon and also made sure Anne Boleyn became queen. Later he even played a prominent role in her downfall, all to become better out of it himself. Mark Rylance plays Cromwell with Damian Lewis as Henry VIII at his side. Fun fact: The Crown star Claire Foy portrays Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall. This 6-part miniseries is based on the novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.



10. Reign (2013 – 2017)

Top 10 British Royalty: ReignMonarch: Mary, Queen of Scots
Years on screen: 1557 – ?

Reign is basically the Young Adult amongst all the adults. YA readers will adore this show filled with romance, secrets, giddy girls and handsome men. The show is aired on the CW, which is home to other teen shows like The Vampire Diaries and Arrow. It’s the Gossip Girl of the 16th century, if you will. Reign is probably the most fictionalized drama on this list, but it is fun nevertheless. It’s about the young Mary, who was crowned queen of Scotland as an infant (though the country was ruled by regents untill she became an adult) and the romances of her and her handmaidens. This is great to watch when you don’t want to think too hard about things like plot but still want to learn some history. The final season of Reign is set to air this year.

* Bonus British Royalty:


11. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Top 10 British Royalty: Shakespeare in LoveMonarch: Queen Elizabeth I
Year on screen: 1593

Since this film is (obviously) about Shakespeare and not about Queen Elizabeth I, it’s not in this top 10. Still, it has the always amazing Dame Judi Dench as the virgin queen, which surprisingly (since she only has eight minutes screentime) won her an Oscar. That wasn’t the only Academy Award the film won: Shakespeare in Love took home 7 golden statues and was nominated for 6 more. If you’re looking for a fun and romantic drama, this is the film for you. It’s far from historical accurate but that’s not the kind of movie it pretends to be.

12. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Top 10 British Royalty: The Other Boleyn GirlMonarch: Henry VIII
Years on screen: 1520 – 1536
This is by no means a historically correct or a good film but look at all the pretty people! Watch the other shows and films on this list for more accurate events in history (and a better written story) but by all means go see The Other Boleyn Girl if you just want to see Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana be their gorgeous selves in great outfits. Oh, and there are a young Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch in the mix as well. Not a great movie (including some terrible acting) but hey, there’s nothing wrong with being superficial once in a while.



Article written by Nora

Nora would like more time in a day to watch more tv-series & films, write more stories and read more books. Instead, she tries to combine working fulltime and being a wife, mom & friend with sponging up as much popculture in her life as one possibly can. Trigger words for her include, but are not limited to: Gaiman, Rowling, Riordan, Rowell, Star Wars, Marvel, Batman, Bucky, Netflix & Disney. On all Social Media she's known as nosinne.

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