The United States has something of a fascination with British royalty. It’s an obsession that’s been around for some time now, and bizarre as it is, it’s resulted in media coverage of royal births with such concentrated intensity that it’s always a shock to find that the infant only has one head, and films about said royalty.
The latter usually comes in two different varieties. There are the movies featuring young and attractive princes and princesses. These genealogy lottery winners are usually mixing with the plebeian folk — so viewers can feel vicariously included in the fantasy — and the plot is usually synonymous with a live-action remake of Cinderella masquerading as a modern day love. The conflict often focuses on the alienating pitfalls of being royal, wealthy, or just like, really, really pretty. Makeovers, beach parties, and shopping montages seem to be an integral part of the plot.
On the other hand, there are the more historically relevant movies which tend to be of higher quality — and usually target a slightly older age group — i.e. out of the early teens. Here are five well reviewed historical dramas about royalty, both in more recent history, and in ages past.
1. The Queen
The Queen stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II just following the death of Princess Diana. The film is a unique look at both the royal family after a tragedy, and the workings of English politics with a focus on Prime Minister Tony Blair. “A lesser director might make all of this deadly earnest, but Frears treats it as what you might call a tragi-comedy of manners,” wrote Bob Mondello of NPR, “perfectly serious but human foibles everywhere.” Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the film a 97% rating, and users gave it a 76% likability rating, possibly because viewers were more bored and less charmed by the subtlety of a “comedy of manners” than critics.