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Five royal roles that won Oscars

The Academy Awards take place in Hollywood tonight with Olivia Colman in the running for Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite. If the British star does pick up the Oscar (and she has to get past the mighty Glenn Close to do that) then she’ll join a select list of performers who have won at the biggest film awards in the world for playing a monarch. As Olivia (and Queen Anne) get ready for their close up, here’s a look at five right royal roles that won an Oscar.

1. Henry VIII – Best Actor for Charles Laugton, 1933

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It’s perhaps not that surprising that the always interesting Henry VIII provided a king of a role for Charles Laughton, the superstar of his day, who scooped Best Actor at the 1933 Oscars for his portrayal of the much married monarch. He took home the prize for his portrayal of the king in The Private Life of Henry VIII directed by Alexander Korda.

2. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Best Actress for Katharine Hepburn, 1969

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Katharine Hepburn won a record fourth Oscar for her part as Eleanor of Aquitaine in the highly acclaimed The Lion in Winter. The film focuses on the political and personal struggles of Eleanor and her husband, King Henry II. Hepburn shared the Best Actress Oscar at the 1969 ceremony with Barbra Streisand who won for her part in Funny Girl.

3. Elizabeth I – Best Supporting Actress for Dame Judi Dench, 1999

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It’s the shortest time on screen ever to earn an Oscar win. Dame Judi Dench was named Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love where she spent just under ten minutes of actual running time bringing Gloriana to life. No worries, it was a hugely popular performance and also helped make up for Dame Judi just missing out on Best Actress the previous year when she’d been nominated for playing Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown.

4. Elizabeth II – Best Actress for Dame Helen Mirren, 2007

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Dame Helen Mirren won just about every award going for her portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen which focused on the House of Windsor in the days and weeks following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The actress often spoke of how much she enjoyed playing the Queen in the film and it’s understood the Monarch herself was also very impressed with the performance.

5. George VI – Best Actor for Colin Firth, 2011

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The Queen’s father, King George VI, provided another Oscar winning role for a British actor. The story of how the king learned to manage the stutter that had been with him through most of his life turned Colin Firth into an Academy Award winner. He picked up the Best Actor prize at the 2011 ceremony for his portrayal of Bertie.

Five monarchs, five very different portrayals, five Oscars. It remains to be seen whether Queen Anne will be added to the list of right royal roles that brought in Academy Awards.

About author

Lydia is a writer, blogger and journalist. She's worked in the media for over twenty years as a broadcast reporter, producer and editor as well as feature and online writer. As well as royals and royal history, she's a news junkie and podcaster.