Nobody knows the people of England better than she.
It did not take me long to realise that Stephen Frear’s The Queen is a delicate story of Upstairs and Downstairs relations. Here, however, the Upstairs is directly accountable to the Downstairs; Downstairs being as they are, what they want does not always seem the classy option. The Stairs themselves are therefore precariously balanced with reconciling those above and below them, all the while trying to balance their own interests.
What was once a simple and elegant metaphor for English society grew laboured in my telling, but Upstairs is the British Monarchy, Downstairs the increasingly cultureless citizens of England, and the Stairs Tony Blair’s government.
Being as this is a movie about class, it’s no surprise that it’s a classy movie. It sympathises with Queen Elizabeth II, who seems more personable than any of the limited times I’ve seen her (although she seemed quite nice when Rolf Harris painted her). The situations presented are almost entirely based on conjecture about the events of a few weeks in 1997. While they may not be strictly true, they feel genuine; these real world people have become fully realised characters for the sake of a film.
While there are some who will be offended by the idea of an author writing a situation that may have happened (and was pretty well researched), anyone else with a vague interest in the Royal Family and the death of Diana will be well served to see The Queen.