Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Queen
Diamond Edition


Starring: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory and Alex Jennings
Pathé Productions Ltd
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 12
Available 28 May 2012

Following the death of Diana, the ‘People’s Princess’, the Queen (Helen Mirren) and her family remain hidden behind tradition and the closed doors of Balmoral Castle. Whilst the heartbroken public becomes disillusioned with their Queen’s absence, an increasingly popular Prime Minister, Tony Blair, must battle to convince the monarchy that its desire for privacy could lead to its ultimate downfall...

I must be one of the few people on the planet to not have seen The Queen (2006). It was always one of those movies I'd had on my list to watch, but had never managed to. So, I was glad to see that my hand was forced when this Blu-ray edition, released to co-incide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend, arrived for review.

The movie focuses on the Royal family's reaction to Princess Diana's death in 1997, several months after Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister. The Royals were on holiday at Balmoral Castle, Scotland and totally misread the public outcry of grief, which turned into ludicrous mass hysteria. As the film shows, the Royals did everything by the book. They were being asked to break tradition and celebrate the life of an ex-royal (at much public expense) to the point where the public were expecting things that even the Queen's father, George VI, wasn't permitted - like the public's insistence that The Royal Standard should fly at half-mast at Buckingham Palace. This is something that just isn't done - what's the point of having protocol if it can be changed just because a nation goes mad with grief for someone they didn't actually know?

All the Queen wanted to do was be there for her grandchildren and not have them thrust into the media spotlight. The Royal Family, quite simply, wanted to mourn Diana's passing alone, away from the media circus. But for some odd reason the country went mad. People were camping outside Buckingham Palace undertaking candlelit vigils and the amount of flowers and notes left outside the gates of the Palace was just ridiculous - especially when you consider that almost none of these people had ever even come into contact with Diana, let alone known her.

These people, in their grief, started to throw accusations at the Royal Family for not cutting their holiday short and returning to Buckingham Palace; for not addressing the nation; and not planning a state funeral (despite the fact that Diana's family wanted a private affair and had already been in discussions with the Royal Family about this). With the nation turning against the Royals, helped greatly by the tabloids who already had blood on their hands with regards Diana's death, Blair stepped in and tried to convince the Royal Family that tradition and protocol should be swept aside before things got ugly. What was needed now was an outlet for the public grief. The result, as history now shows, was a ridiculous media circus with people turning up in their thousands to pay their respects to a woman they didn't even know.

Director Stephen Frears creative decision to shoot different scenes on different film stock shines through much better on Blu-ray. So, when we're with the Blairs there's a grainy, common feel, when compared to the Royal's footage which is crisp and more lavish. As Frears points out in the audio commentary this is a movie that's designed to be full of seams - which are supposed to hit you over the head and be noticed.

This is a beautiful film that is moving in its portrayal of The Queen (maybe not so kind to Charles and Philip and the ongoing behind the scenes fighting of the Royals). The scene where Her Majesty sees the stag is particularly heartfelt, and wonderfully shot not to become too sentimental or voyeuristic. This is how we want our Queen portrayed; with that stiff-upper-lip no nonsense that has ensured the monarchy has survived while other countries have dispatched theirs.

At first I was a little disappointed at the lack of extras, but then when I sat and thought about it, what more could you want to know about the making of the film than what we're presented with?

Extras include audio commentary with Frears and Peter Morgan (writer); Making of Featurette (19 min, 30 sec); Production Photo Gallery; and Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 46 sec). The audio commentary isn't one of the greatest I've ever heard, but does offer a few interesting snippets of information. It reveals that some of the paparazzi that were there the night Diana died appeared in the reenactment scenes; Morgan reveals the one word he speaks in the movie (overdubbing a servant who pronounced "Ma'am" incorrectly); the shot of the Queen rearranging the pens on her desk was included after Mirren discovered that the Queen has a mild form of OCD; Morgan's strange obsession with the quality of royal bathrobes; the bizarre notion that people have attached to the symbolism of The Stag in the movie - including those who think it represents Diana; the fact that David Attenborough directed the original tribute speech that the Queen gave to the nation; and in a screening, Mirren whispering to her husband: "Look at me in that scene. Will you ever be able to f*ck me again?"

With a ridiculously low retail price £12.99, this is an essential addition to your Blu-ray collection.


Darren Rea

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£10.99 (
£10.99 (
£13.00 (
£11.87 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.