Movies and Series about Queens – Best 20 Queen Films

Movies and series about queens are most often historical spectacles realized on a grand scale, although within this sub-genre there is also no shortage of intimate portraits of great female rulers. In cinema, almost from its inception, famous heiresses to the throne have been an object of interest and fascination. After all, the queen as a figure belonging to the world of the past is an atypical figure – on the one hand feminine, on the other, due to the attribute of power, associated with the male sphere – public and political.

Films about queens

1. ”Queen Christina”, 1933

Movies about queens - Queen Christina

This is a legendary item among movies about female rulers. The titular Swedish Queen Christina of the Vasa dynasty was played by Greta Garbo herself. Rouben Mamoulian’s picture tells the story of a 17th-century monarch who, after more than twenty years in power, decided to abdicate. In the film, the reason for Vasa’s resignation from the throne is her love for a handsome Spanish ambassador, a certain Antonio (played by John Gilbert). In reality, the motives for the abdication of the daughter of Gustav II Adolphus were a bit more complicated and have not been fully explained to this day. Among them are mentioned the conversion of Christina to Catholicism, as well as rumors of her androgynous nature.

The creation of Queen Christina is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding roles in the oeuvre of Greta Garbo, who managed to create a complex portrait of an enlightened, interesting and majestic monarch torn between personal desires and duty to her people. In retrospect, “Queen Christina” has almost become a symbol of the actress’ legendary and unmatched position in the history of the film industry. On the other hand, the act of cinematic abdication itself foreshadowed the actual abandonment of cinema by the divine Greta, which occurred several years after the premiere.

2. ”Sissi”, 1955

Films about queens - Sissi

The story of Empress Elisabeth, fondly called Sissi by her subjects, has passed into film classics thanks to Ernst Marischka’s 1955 picture, and above all to the iconic role of Roma Schneider. Here the Austrian actress played the graceful and humorous princess who became the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph instead of her sister. Audiences around the world fell in love with Schneider’s portrayal of Sissi, and it was very difficult for the star to break free from her evocative portrayal of the young ruler. Romy appeared here in a duet with her mother, also an actress, Magda Schneider, who played the very mother of the empress. Franz Joseph, on the other hand, was played by Karlheinz Böhm.

The famous Austrian Empress Sissi remains a legendary figure to this day, especially for her incredible beauty, which she retained into her late years. Her restrictive diet, the secrets of taking care of her magnificent long hair, and the exercises to maintain her slim figure and physical fitness are the subject of inquiries by many researchers. It’s no wonder that the film “Sissi” also went down in cinema history, and its main character is one of the most important movie queens.

3. “Cleopatra”, 1963

Best movies about queens - Cleopatra

In the list of the best movies about queens certainly can not miss the famous “Cleopatra” with Elizabeth Taylor. The role of the great ruler of ancient Egypt was played by many famous actresses: Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert or Vivien Leigh, but it is Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s version with Liz Taylor that has become the most memorable one. Of course, at the center of the Hollywood story of Cleopatra is the great romance, or rather, two famous relationships of the queen that influenced the fate of the ancient world: with Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and with Mark Antony (Richard Burton). It was on the set of “Cleopatra” that Taylor’s tempestuous love affair with Burton blossomed, which not only electrified a thirsty audience, but eventually ended in the couple’s twofold marriage.

Mankiewicz’s four Oscar-winning work is an example of epic Hollywood cinema, executed on a grand scale. The huge budget allowed the creation of a legendary superproduction, with stunning costumes and sets. Liz Taylor’s creation, on the other hand, shaped the popular image of Cleopatra – an insanely beautiful, dangerous and intelegant woman who had ambitions to control the politics and interests of the ancient world.

4. “Elizabeth”, 1998

Best films about queens - Elizabeth

Elizabeth I, Queen of Great Britain from the Tudor dynasty, who came to the throne in the 16th century, is one of the monarchs most often portrayed by cinema. The legendary creation of this heroine was created by Bette Davis in Michael Curtiz’s film “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” (1939). The picture focused on the queen’s affair with Robert Devereux, who was younger than her and eventually sentenced to death. In contemporary cinema, meanwhile, the iconic role of Elizabeth I was played by Cate Blanchett, in Shekhar Kapur’s 1998 Oscar-winning “Elizabeth.” The actress won a Golden Globe and an American Academy Award nomination for her stunning performance. She managed to show the complex personality of a great ruler, forced to fight for her position and with effort to build a strong empire.

“Elizabeth” is a story about a woman with all the predispositions to rule a country, who, in order to make her own decisions, must renounce her personal desires and negate the gender-assigned vocation of marriage and motherhood. Cate Blanchett also played the British queen in the film’s sequel, “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” (2007), which shows the further stages of the ruler’s reign. Here we see the empress as a skilled politician, a warrior, but also a lover. The role of her love was played by Clive Owen.

5. „Anne of the Thousand Days”, 1969

20 great movies about queens - Anne of the Thousand Days

Another picture on our list of movies about queens is the Oscar-winning British “Anne of a Thousand Days,” directed by Charles Jarrott. The magnificent historical spectacle tells the story of Elizabeth I’s mother, Anne Boleyn, whose relationship with the English king, Henry VIII, changed the fate of the entire monarchy. Indeed, the ruler, in order to marry her, had to stand against the Pope, who did not allow the monarch to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII therefore declared obedience to the Catholic faith and created his own faction of Christianity: the Anglican Church headed by the person of the English king.

Told with passion, the story of the passionate relationship between the ruler and Anne Boleyn still impresses today with its grandeur and acting. The pair of main characters are played by Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold. The film is notable for its gorgeous, artistic cinematography, striking sets and sophisticated dialogues. The insanely interesting and at the same time tragic story of Anne Boleyn is also presented, for example, in “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (1972) or the famous film “The Other Boleyn Girl” (2008) with Natalie Portman (as Anne) and Scarlett Johansson (as her sister Mary).

6. “Lady Jane” (1986)

20 great films about queens - Lady Jane

“Lady Jane”, directed by Trevor Nunn, is another English film presenting a biography of the queen. Despite the fact that Jane Grey ruled England for only 9 days, her fate turned out to be interesting enough to become the canvass of a beautiful film story. The role of the Lady was played by Helena Bonham Carter. She played a young, naive girl raised in the Protestant faith, who, after the death of Henry VIII’s only son and also her cousin Edward, as a result of her parents’ palace intrigues, is placed on the throne of Great Britain. The young queen has just married the Duke of Guildford Dudley (Cary Elwes), with whom, despite initial problems, she is united by great affection. Soon, however, Mary, sister of the late King Edward and a follower of the Catholic faith, decides to reclaim the throne.

“Lady Jane” is a historical melodrama in which romance and the tragic story of the young queen come to the fore. Helena Bonham Carter’s creation as an innocent girl thrown into the vortex of great politics against her will is moving. This is a silhouette of a brave young woman, faithful to the end to her convictions, who is destroyed by the cruel rules of the struggle for power.

7. “Queen Margot” („La reine Margot”), 1994

the best movies about queens - Queen Margot

Also included in our list of the best films about female rulers is “Queen Margot,” directed by Patrice Chereau and based on the acclaimed novel by Alexandre Dumas (the father). The story of the French heiress to the throne from the Valois dynasty, living in the 16th century, is a turbulent tale of palace intrigue, passion, betrayal and one of the bloodiest episodes in French history, the slaughter of the Huguenots. Margaret de Valois, a Catholic, is to become the wife of Henry of Navarre of the Bourbon dynasty, who represents the Huguenot faith. The wedding is supposed to officially end the religious war in France between the two factions of Christianity. However, it turns out that the marriage is only a pretext that the bride’s mother, Catherine de’ Medici, uses to murder the Huguenot wedding party arriving in Paris.

“Queen Margot” was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes, as well as five Cesars. A separate Palme d’Or went to Virna Lisi, who played the role of Catherine de Medici. Queen Margrethe was played by the phenomenally beautiful Isabelle Adjani, and her spouse was played by Daniel Auteuil. The film is a rich historical fresco that exposes many myths about 16th-century customs, and especially about women. Indeed, the titular Margot is a leading scandalist of her time, famous for her exuberant temperament.

8. „Marie Antoinette”, 2006

20 most iconic queens in movies - Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette is another queenly figure that often sparks the interest of filmmakers. The legendary role of this ruler was played by Norma Shearer in W. S. Van Dyke’s 1938 masterpiece. The magnificent costumes for this film were created by Gilbert Adrian, Greta Grabo’s favorite designer. Adrian, who carefully studied the fashion of the period, as well as the paintings of the period, managed to sew the costumes from fabrics reproduced from the 18th century. In modern cinema, the story of the French queen was very interestingly portrayed by Sofia Coppola, in the Oscar-winning 2006 film.

Here, the character of Marie Antoinette was played by Kirsten Dunst, who managed to warm up the image of a ruler widely known for her contemptuous attitude to the poor people of Paris. In Coppola’s film, Louis XVI’s wife is a young girl who gradually learns to be an influential woman at one of Europe’s most important courts. After fulfilling her maternal duty, which gives her the coveted position, also comes the desire to enjoy life and the power she possesses. Until the end, however, isolated from the ordinary world, the queen remains completely unaware of the meanderings of great politics, and the final exile from Versailles appears to her like the interruption of a beautiful dream.

9. „The Young Victoria”, 2009

Movies about royalty - The Young Victoria

Among the movies about queens, “The Young Victoria,” treating the famous British monarch, also known as the “grandmother of Europe,” is also not to be missed. After all, the grandchildren of this long-reigning ruler reigned in many European countries. Victoria of the Hanoverian dynasty took power as an 18-year-old in 1837. Jean-Marc Valee’s film is the story of a high-profile love story starring a female ruler. Namely, it is about the affection with which the British queen bestowed on Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family. Victoria fell head over heels in love with her handsome cousin, and despite the fact that he was no match for her position and fortune, she decided to marry him.

The British monarch was played by Emily Blunt, while her spouse was played by Rupert Friend. “The Young Victoria” is a film that is sure to appeal to lovers of costume cinema. Here we have magnificent period costumes (Oscar for costumes), the customs of the English court, great politics and, of course, a thrilling love story, in addition, based on fact. The marriage of history and romance is a combination that always works.

Movies and series about female rulers

10. “Curse of the Golden Flower” („Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia”), 2006

Movies and series about queens - Curse of the Golden Flower

Movies about queens also include items from outside the Western cultural circle. If one has a desire to learn more about the realities of Asian dynasties, especially women on the throne, then one will appreciate “Curse of the Golden Flower” Yimou Zhang is a very well-known director, the creator of such works as “House of Flying Daggers,” “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Hero,” for example. The “Curse of the Golden Flower” is set in China in the distant 10th century. Emperor Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) sits on the throne. However, the reign of the dynasty is threatened by the revelation of a scandal unfolding at court. For Empress Phoenix (Li Gong) is having an affair with the ruler’s son from his first marriage, Prince Wan (Ye Liu). However, this one does not love his stepmother, and what’s more, the queen is aware that her husband is gradually poisoning her.

“Curse of the Golden Flower” is a film realized with great panache. Most noteworthy are the magnificent costumes, monumental decorations and sophisticated cinematography. The main character is a tragic figure, who, aware of her love failure and imminent death, does not give in to fate, but fights for the future of her son.

11. “Mad Love” („Juana la Loca”), 2001

20 queen movies - Mad Love

The Spanish queen, Joan of Castile, is the ruler whose fate was shown in the 2001 movie “Mad Love”. The picture was directed by Vincente Aranda, and the main role was played by Pilar Lopez de Ayala. The film is set in the 16th century, when Princess Joan, daughter of the Catholic Kings, unexpectedly inherits the Spanish crown. Together with her spouse, Philip the Beautiful (Daniele Liotti), she therefore travels to Spain, where she assumes power. However, the queen is more interested in the infidelity of her husband, whom she sincerely loves and bestows unheard-of passion, than in ruling. Due to Philip’s constant betrayals, the ruler begins to lose her mind.

“Mad Love” is a rather intimate portrait of the queen as a woman suffering the torments of great love and destructive passion. At a time when there was no room for true affection in royal marriages, but only for political deals, sincere affect could even seem a manifestation of madness. Despite the officially obligatory Christian religion, freedom of customs, especially among men, was something common, and the demand for fidelity seemed downright faddish.

12. „Victoria and Abdul”, 2017

20 queen films Victoria and Abdul

Among films about female rulers, „Victoria and Abdul” draws an overly interesting picture. This is because Stephen Frears’ picture depicts one episode from the reign of English Queen Victoria. Namely, it is about her long-standing friendship with her Indian secretary, Abdul Karim. This relationship was the cause of much gossip, but is also believed to have significantly influenced the queen’s rule in the final period of her reign. The starring roles were played by Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.

„Victoria and Abdul” is not only a story about an unusual friendship, but also an attempt to show the relationship between the British crown and the Far East. After all, Queen Victoria was not only the ruler of Great Britain, but also bore the title of Empress of India. Her reign epitomizes the colonial era, while the film shows the gradual opening of the West to Otherness and the maturing of its recognition of its distinct culture. Queen Victoria was indeed fascinated by India, and Abdul Karim taught her two languages, Urdu and Hindustani.

13. „The Favourite”, 2018

Top 20 movies about queens - The Favourite

„The Favourite” directed by Yórgos Lánthimos, is a BAFTA award-winning film about the reign of Queen Anne, who ruled Britain in the early 18th century. Playing the role of the ruler, Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her performance. The movie tells the story of complicated female relationships in Anne’s palace. For the queen bestows great trust on one of her ladies of the court, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), whom she allows to co-determine matters of state importance. However, the situation changes when a young noblewoman, Abigail (Emma Stone) with a huge appetite for a great career appears at court.

„The Favourite” is a film focusing on female competition for power. The heroines, contrary to gender stereotypes, can be aggressive and cunning in their quest for dominance. They are masters of manipulation and conspiracy, who coolly calculate their chances of gaining the upper hand. Maternal symbolism also plays an important role in the film, such as the 17 rabbits raised by the queen, which, as Hannah Greig, the film’s consultant, pointed out, are meant to symbolize Queen Anne’s deceased children.

14. “The Queen and I” („Drottningen och jag”), 2008

the best portrayals of queens in movies - The queen and I

“The Queen and I” is another picture in our ranking of the best films about female rulers. This is a very interesting documentary, in which we are dealing with recent history, set in Iran. After all, the queen of the title is Farah Diba, who, although she does not have aristocratic roots, marries the Shah Mohammadd Reza Pahlavi himself. The couple lives together for several decades, raising four children. In 1978, however, a revolution breaks out in the country, as a result of which the entire imperial family has to bail out by fleeing.

On the 29th anniversary of the revolution, one of its participants, Nahid Persson, also living abroad, decides to talk to the former empress. She wants to ask her many interesting questions: how does she recall her life in Iran? Was she happy? And perhaps most important: did she know about the systemically planned crimes that took place in the country?

15. „Mary, Queen of Scots”, 2018

Top 20 movies about quuens - Mary Queen of Scots

“Mary, Queen of Scots,” directed by Josie Rourke, is a modern retelling of the story of one of the most significant political rivalries of 16th century Europe: between Queen Elizabeth of the Tudor dynasty and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots. The English ruler feared that Mary, who, unlike her, had given birth to a son, might threaten her position. So, after many adventures, she finally imprisoned her Scottish cousin, and in an attempt to free herself, the latter took part in plots against Elizabeth.

The movie is a fascinating depiction of the psychological duel between two powerful women of her era. The meeting of the two rivals takes center stage on the screen, but it is a fictional scene. Although Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart often corresponded with each other, they never met. Noteworthy are the wonderful performances: Margot Robbie in the role of the English ruler and Saoirse Ronan in the role of the Scottish queen.

16. ”Snow White and the Huntsman”, 2012

The best films about queens of all time - Snow White and the Huntsman

The fantasy film “Snow White and the Huntsman” is a reinterpretation of the well-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. The picture has a dark atmosphere, exuding an atmosphere of horror and fatalism. Interestingly, as important a character as the title Snow White (played by Kristen Stewart) turns out to be the evil Queen Ravenna, who condemns her beautiful stepdaughter to death. The figure of the ruler, played by the phenomenal Charlize Theron, acquires an ambiguous dimension. Her merciless cruelty has tragic overtones, as it is underpinned by a genuine fear of losing the only tool of power a woman has in her world: youth and beauty. The hunter who embezzles the queen’s orders is played by Chris Hemsworth.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” by Rupert Sanders is a multifaceted story about women’s desperate attempt to survive in a world ruled by men. It is a diagnosis of the ruthless female rivalry that replaces solidarity and sisterhood. Finally, it is an exquisite and ambivalent portrayal of a female ruler.

17. “The Queen”, 2006

Queen movies list - The Queen

“The Queen” by Stephen Frears is a successful portrait of the most famous modern monarch: Elizabeth II. The movie focuses on a very difficult period for the British royal family, namely the circumstances of Princess Diana’s death. Elizabeth II, along with Prime Minister Tony Blair, are trying to figure out how the funeral of the tragically deceased and universally loved by the nation Diana will be held. This seemingly neutral ceremony becomes a matter of the utmost importance and may affect the attitude of the subjects towards the monarchy.

The strongest point of “The Queen” is the excellent Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning performance of Helen Mirren, who managed to play the British ruler convincingly. The actress not only conveyed the physical resemblance, gestures and facial expressions of the monarch, but showed an apt balance between royal dignity and an intimate portrait of Elizabeth II. Michael Sheen, who plays the British Prime Minister, also gave a very good performance.

18. „The Crown” (TV series 2016 – 2021)

Series about queens - The Crown

It is impossible to omit from the list of the best movies about queens the extremely popular Netflix series “The Crown”. This is a very interesting picture of the modern Windsor dynasty, the plot of which begins at the end of the reign of George VI. The young Princess Elizabeth, after the death of her father, accepts the royal scepter and begins to assume the most important role of her life. Henceforth, she is no longer just the wife of her beloved Philip (Matt Smith) and the mother of her children, but also a queen, although in her time this means something different than in the previous century. Excellent portrayals of Elizabeth II were created here by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, showing a lady whose presence in big politics, though devoid of the possibility of direct interference, is an important force balancing the various options.

Winner of seven Golden Globes, Netflix’s series “The Crown” is an extremely thoughtful, interesting story about the fate of the British crown, with a rather clear message behind it: in the modern world, the existence of the monarchy still makes sense. And it is this conviction that shines through in every episode of the fascinating family saga, in which characters who throw off the tight bonds of courtly conventions, like Edward (Alex Jennings), who abdicates in favor of his brother, are unequivocally condemned as irresponsible worldlings.

19.„The Great” – TV series, 2020

The best series about queens - The Great

The Australian-British series “The Great”, on the other hand, is the story of one of the most famous monarchs in history – Tsarina Catherine. The legendary cinematic creation of the Russian ruler was created by Marlene Dietrich in Joseph von Sternberg’s 1934 film “The Scarlet Empress”. In subsequent episodes, we observe the accomplished metamorphosis of a young girl into an intelligent and equally ruthless ruler of great Russia, aware of her capabilities. The series does not remain completely faithful to historical facts, adapting the image of the empress to modern psychological knowledge, as well as feminist theories.

The leading role in “The Great” was played by Elle Fanning, who became known as an interesting and multidimensional actress. Tony McNamara’s film operates with a varied style, does not shy away from comedy, romance, and even elements of satire and grotesque. Certainly, the Emmy-nominated adaptation of McNamara’s play deserves attention.

20. „Reign” – TV series, 2013 – 2017

Quenn series - Reign

Last in our selection of series about the queen: “Reign” This is the already mentioned sixteenth-century and still alive in the memory of posterity story of the Scottish ruler, who, although she spent several decades of her life in imprisonment, became one of the most influential women of her era. The series shows the extremely interesting and rich in unexpected twists and turns history of the young queen.

The main role in the series was played by Adelaide Kane. It is worth noting that “Reign” is loosely based on historical facts, and the creators of the production have focused on an attractive story and expressive profiles of the characters.

Films and series about queens – summary

It can be said that the most notable feature of films about rulers is the duality of the main character, that is, a kind of game between the private and official image of the heroines. Queens, empresses, emperors – the only representatives of their sex, who in the distant past could decide the fate of states and nations to this day arouse undying fascination. Although also modern monarchesses, despite the fact that they no longer have real power, remain interesting for cinema.