It’s been an exciting few weeks for the British Royal Family of late. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 92nd birthday on April 21st. Two days later, Prince Louis, the third child of William and Kate (aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) was born. And now in just about a week, William’s brother, Prince Harry, will wed American actress, Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle.
Such events are important milestones for any family, but when you’re as well-known as the Windsor clan, these occasions become a cause for world-wide celebration.
Just imagine the millions of strangers awaiting (and wagering bets on) the name of your newborn baby or entire neighborhoods throwing street parties in observation of your nuptials. Your family’s most private highs and lows are recorded not only for the news and documentary programs, but are subsequently adapted into “based on a true story” films and TV shows for the public’s consumption.
And to be honest, we love it, don’t we? From award winners like The King’s Speech, The Queen and The Crown to the cheesiest TV movies such as Lifetime’s William & Kate or WE’s Charles & Camilla: Whatever Love Means, the popularity of such productions demonstrate the lives of the royals have historical significance and commercial entertainment value as well.
So as we await all the romance and surprises that Harry and Meghan’s big day are sure to have in store, I have compiled a list of movies and TV series that you can stream right now to get in the Windsor frame of mind.
Bertie and Elizabeth (2002) – Amazon Prime Channels
This TV movie stars James Wilby as Bertie (George VI) and Juliet Aubrey as Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother). The story chronicles the couple’s relationship from their first meeting on through their courtship, marriage, and succession to the throne after the abdication of Bertie’s brother, Edward VIII played by Charles Edwards. Just as in The King’s Speech, we witness King George VI’s struggle to overcome a severe stutter as well as the stress of being the monarch that who led his country through WWII.
Edward and Mrs. Simpson (1978) – Acorn TV
Telling the story from a different brother’s point of view is this Emmy award winning mini-series starring Edward Fox as Edward and Cynthia Harris as Wallis Simpson. It dramatizes the events of this controversial relationship resulting in the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII, who gave up his throne to marry the American divorcee he couldn't live without .
Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) - Netflix
Starring Bill Murray as Franklin Roosevelt and Laura Linney as his cousin and mistress Margaret Suckley, the film depicts the visit of King George VI (Samuel West) and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) to the Roosevelts’ home at Hyde Park in June 1939. It was the first time a reigning British monarch had ever set foot on American soil. Referred to as the Royal Hot Dog Summit by some in the press, it was the nervous King’s goal to shore up US government support for the impending war with Germany.
A Royal Night Out (2015) - Netflix
Moving on to the next generation of Windsors, this film tells the story of two young princesses and their incognito adventures on V-E night. When a headstrong and rather naïve Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) gets swept away with mobs of celebratory Londoners, apprehensive older sister Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) enlists the assistance of English airman Jack Hodges (Jack Reynor) to track her down.
While the real Lilibet and Margaret did join the jubilant crowds that night, the other stuff is, in all likelihood, made up for the movie.
Diana (2013) - Amazon Prime
This film is a biographical drama recounting the final years of Diana, Princess of Wales’ life. Naomi Watts plays the iconic “People’s Princess”. Naveen Andrews stars as Dr. Hasnat Khan, the Pakistani heart surgeon with whom Diana had a secret two-year relationship. Also featured are glimpses into the princess' humanitarian campaigns such as her land mine charity. Reviews for Diana weren’t great, but it was the only streaming film that featured anyone from this generation of the Royal Family.
The Windsors (2016- ) - Netflix
And now for something completely different and obviously not concerned with accuracy! In a Channel 4 news release this is how this sitcom was described.
“The Windsors puts our beloved Royal Family into the comedy spotlight. The series is a wry take on what the soap opera of their lives (and loves) might just be like. Delving behind the headlines and gossip columns, The Windsors lets our imaginations run riot in this ludicrous parody.”
Starring Harry Enfield as Charles, Hugh Skinner as Wills, Haydn Gwynne as Camilla, Louise Ford as Kate and Richard Goulding as Harry, every single character is a ridiculous exaggeration of the real family member the audience thinks they know. Even Meghan Markle (Kathryn Drysdale) has made it onto the show as an American divorcee romantically involved with a prince… Wait, this scenario sounds rather familiar, right?
Happy pre-Royal Wedding viewing! If you're aware of additional regal-themed fare that's currently streaming, please share the titles in the comments section!