The longest-reigning Sovereign in British history passed away on Thursday, Sept. 8., but the legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will live on — including through her many portrayals on-screen. Following the news of her death, Dame Helen Mirren (a title she was appointed to by the Queen) paid tribute to the late monarch.
"I'm mourning along with the rest of my country, the passing of a great Queen. I'm proud to call myself of the Elizabethan age. If there was a definition of nobility, Elizabeth Windsor embodied it," Mirren said in a statement. (She shared a similar sentiment on social media, below.)
Mirren won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in 2006's The Queen, director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan's cinematic portrait of the monarch in the days that followed the death of Princess Diana. (The film earned six nominations in total, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.)
Born on April 21, 1926 in Mayfair, London, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen regnant in 1952. Buckingham Palace confirmed she "died peacefully" at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on the afternoon of Sept. 8. She was 96.
"We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother," said her son, His Majesty King Charles III. "I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held."
"To me, she was like Big Ben. She'd just always been there," Mirren reflected in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. "The Queen came to the throne when I was 7, I think. She's been there for my whole life. I didn't really take any note of her until I started having to research her as a person, as a human being. Then I found myself finding a huge admiration for her, and respect."
As for whether the Queen ever saw her portrayal in The Queen, Mirren told the publication, "I got the sense that it had been seen and that it had been appreciated. I’ve never heard directly, and I never will."
"For 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle."
The Queen was not Mirren's only portrayal of Elizabeth II, as she also played her on the stage in the Peter Morgan-scripted The Audience in 2013, directed by Stephen Daldry. Mirren won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress for her performance. She reprised the role on Broadway in 2015, for which she won the Tony for Leading Actress in a Play.
"For 50 years and more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle," Mirren said onstage while accepting her Oscar. "She's had her feet planted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head, her handbag on her arm, and she's weathered many, many storms. I salute her courage and her consistency. And I thank her, because, if it wasn't for her, I most certainly would not be here."
Queen Elizabeth II is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.
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