Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart
You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind…
by Elton John
Few from our generation will ever forget the day Princess Diana died. It will be even harder to forget the mass hysteria that set in worldwide in the week that followed.
Diana, beautiful and glamorous, the square peg in the round hole, was the ex-wife of Prince Charles, and loved and admired by all in the world. Many people blamed the royal house for pushing her into a reckless life and then to her death.
‘The Queen’ is not about Princess Diana, but the weeks of turmoil that followed in England after her death, form the basic premise of the movie. Tony Blair has been elected as the new Labour Leader after 15 years of Tory government. It is imperative that he creates a favorable impression with the Crown. As news of Diana’s death flashes across the world , appeasing public sentiment becomes a critical political agenda. On the other hand, the Royal family is adamant in considering Diana’s death as private, family affair, more so since her divorce with Charles excludes her from the royal family. With that stand the Queen and family refuses to address the public and decide to hold a private funeral. The public sentiment goes from being sympathetic to angry as they refuse to understand the technicalities on Diana’s royal status and demand to see some emotion and remorse from the royal family. Blair senses the public sentiment and tries to warn the Queen of all the negative publicity that the royal family is inviting. Things come to pass, when a poll shows that 25% of the people believe that the monarchy has outlived its purpose.
The Queen is understandably stunned at the near sainthood status that Diana has achieved after her death. She believes that quite restraint is the appropriate behavior and thinks it’s against the dignity of the royal family to play out to the media circus. However, with increasing pressure from Charles, Tony and the public, the Queen relents to the demand of a public tribute.
Helen Mirren, as HRH Queen Elizabeth II is brilliant and well deserves her Oscar. She is very convincing in her role as a Queen and has very well adapted the voice and mannerisms. She beautifully portrays the whole range of emotions that the role required. The other stellar performance I believe belongs to Michael Sheen as Tony Blair.
The movie moves at an even pace. Stephen Frears is able to successfully recreate the environment and lifestyle of a royal household. He is brilliant in retaining those little elements in each of the characters that makes them more appealing to the audience. For instance, there is an instance where post dinner Tony offers to do the dinner dishes in his home. Thought it’s very irrelevant to the story, it basically highlights the nuisances that makes these characters real. The movie also attempts to show the Queen’s side of the story and as a viewer you definitely feel for her situation.