Who Wore the Crown Best? 6 Actresses Who Played the Role of Queen Elizabeth II

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Queen for a day: a look at the actresses who have played (or voiced) the iconic role.

Olivia Colman, The Crown

The actress made her first screen appearance in 2000, but it wasn't until 2011 that Olivia Colman gained real popularity for her role in the psychological drama film Tyrannosaur, winning the British Independent Film Award and the Empire Award. In 2018, the actress starred in the historical melodrama The Favourite, where she played Queen Anne, and the role earned Colman her first Oscar in 2019. In the same year, she also received a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and the Volpi Cup at the Venice International Film Festival. Among the many great roles that Colman played, one that stands out is that of another British monarch: the actress portrayed Elizabeth II in seasons three and four of The Crown, which focus on the life of the royal family in the 1960s through to 1990.

For her performance in the Netflix series, the actress won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a number of other prestigious awards. Colman was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to drama.

Claire Foy, The Crown

In seasons one and two of Netflix's The Crown, Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed by the British actress Claire Foy. The show's first two seasons depict the early years of the reign of Elizabeth, who ascended to the throne at the age of 25. For her role in the series, Foy received an Emmy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award.

Helen Mirren, The Queen

In 2006, Stephen Frears' historical drama The Queen was released, starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II. The film shows the events after the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. Mirren's performance in The Queen earned the actress much critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress. Interestingly, her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth was approved by the monarch herself, and following the release of the film, the actress was even invited to dine with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Freya Wilson, The King's Speech

The British actress Freya Wilson was only 11 years old when she starred in The King's Speech, portraying young Princess Elizabeth. The film focuses on the rise to power of Elizabeth's father King George VI and his struggle to overcome his speech impediment. It won four Oscars in 2011.

Julie Walters, The Queen's Corgi

A holder of the Order of the British Empire, actress Julie Walters voiced Queen Elizabeth in the 2019 animated film The Queen's Corgi, which tells the story of Her Majesty's beloved pup, Rex, and his adventures outside Buckingham Palace. In real life, Elizabeth II owned about 30 corgis, so the cartoon emphasized the monarch's special love for her pets.

Sarah Gadon, A Royal Night Out

The Canadian actress Sarah Gadon portrayed the young Queen in the British romantic comedy drama A Royal Night Out. Set in May 1945, the movie shows Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret as they sneak out of Buckingham Palace for an all-night Victory Day celebration.