If you've ever wondered what conversations took place in Buckingham Palace during the fateful August week in 1997 when the beloved Princess Diana was killed in a horrific car crash, Peter Morgan, screenwriter for The Queen, fills us in on what he thinks was said in the most intimate of circumstances.
Late one night, just a few months into Prime Minister Tony Blair's (Michael Sheen) leadership, comes the shocking news of the Princess of Wales' death. Awoken with the announcement, Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) quickly decides the situation has no bearing on the Royal Family because it is a private matter for the Spencer family.
Holding firm to that position and wanting to keep the spotlights away from Diana and Charles's (Alex Jennings) children, Elizabeth and Prince Philip (James Cromwell) opt to stay in the countryside at the family's Balmoral Estate. There, grandpa keeps the young ones busy chasing a deer through the meadows while QE II and The Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) spend their days watching newscasts and speculating on the situation.
However, back in "reality," a very different situation is developing. The British people are reeling from the tragedy and creating a monument of flowers in front of Buckingham Palace. Rising with the pile of memorials is the public's desire to have the Royals respond to the tragedy in a way that will allow all Britons an opportunity to grieve a loss that has left many personally affected.
Walking the fine line between honoring the wishes of his head of state and the voters of his nation, Tony Blair finds himself in a most unusual situation. Carefully, he suggests to the Queen what he feels she must do if she is to maintain public support for the Royal Family. His counsel includes returning to London and participating in what will be one of the most public funerals in all of history. Meanwhile, both his advisers and his wife (Helen McCrory) do not support the Monarchy and feel Blair's innate desire to assist Buckingham is unnecessary.
Other than the possibility of teens and children balking at an apparently dry premise, the film presents only minimal content concerns from a parent's perspective. These include a very quick and single use of the sexual expletive and a handful of other mild profanities. As well, some discussion of Diana and Charles's adulterous relationships are heard, and a dead deer with its head removed is depicted.
Yet this intelligent movie, which is (quoting the press information) "drawn from extensive interviews, devoted research and informed imagination" will undoubtedly spark debate on the well-tread topic of whether the Royal Family is still a valid and necessary entity in today's political arena. Refreshingly even handed and never lowering to gratuitous extremes, The Queen offers a very compelling drama that will leave audiences with something to talk about afterward -- and even young viewers may be surprised at just how intriguing this story is.