Queen Elizabeth II is a real figure, but is here fictionalized for the sake of the narrative. She is the queen of England, who took over those duties at a very young age after her father died. In this film, the queen's tendency to prioritize duty and protocol over sentiment is her defining characteristic and her biggest struggle. At the time of Diana's death, there was a renewed interest in republicanism, and the monarchy was falling out of favor with the people of Britain, primarily because it was felt that the royal family was out of touch. Throughout the film, Elizabeth struggles with this turn towards modernization, and worries that her investment in her position and tradition will compromise her standing with her people.
Elizabeth struggles to do what is right, in spite of the overwhelming pressure placed on her by her subjects to get her to mourn publicly and break royal protocol on behalf of the celebrity princess, Diana. Elizabeth is not someone to be easily manipulated and believes that much of the fuss over Diana's death is based around media hysteria and celebrity culture that Diana cultivated for herself. By the end of the film, Elizabeth does not exactly change her mind about the situation, but she realizes that she must bend to public pressure if she wants to have a stable reputation as a monarch of the people. From Elizabeth's point of view, she sees that traditionally, monarchs were always expected to be stoic and discreet, acting as emotionally repressive anchors for their people. Now, in a more modern era, the British people do not want stoicism, but bald emotion and expressivity. Thus, Elizabeth struggles to reconcile the fact that she was raised to put on a brave face with the pressure from contemporary Brits to be more of an open book.
Blair is the British prime minister at the time of Diana's death. When the royal family does not step up to express any kind of remorse about Diana's death, Tony mourns publicly, dubs Diana "the people's princess," and counsels the queen in how to win public favor. He sees his role as prime minister as determined by the people over which he governs, and wants to win favor by appealing to their hearts and their sense of loss.
Just as Elizabeth undergoes a crisis of faith throughout the film, so does Tony. At the beginning of the film, he is an anti-royalist who has barely any respect for the monarch's position. As he works with the queen more, however, and sees the tremendous strain she is under, he begins to sympathize with her very specific position. While he is driven to help her win favor with the public, it is not because he believes she is acting in a way that is inappropriate. Rather, he sees her as a product of the times in which she was raised, and as someone who is fiercely committed to duty. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with the queen when he sees just how difficult her job really is.
Charles, Prince of Wales
Diana's ex-husband Prince Charles has seen his popularity hit an all-time low in the years since his divorce from Diana. The British people are not on his side and he feels awful about her death. He wants badly for his family to show up and break from tradition in order to make amends for the wrongs done to Diana. He also sees, in the wake of Diana's death, what a warm mother she was to their two sons. In subtle moments, we see that Charles wishes that he himself could have received warm love from his own mother. He is portrayed as a black sheep of sorts, a man who wants to change how things are done.
Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke is well known for his dislike of Diana, and this cold attitude towards her extends long after her death. He does not understand the need for public mourning, or a public funeral, because in his opinion she is no longer a part of the royal family. Among the royal family, he is perhaps the most committed to maintaining traditional standards and not bending to public will. He is, at times, rather callous and unfeeling, characteristics that even Elizabeth notices.
Janvrin is the queen's private secretary during this tumultuous time. He works as an intermediary between the queen and the prime minister throughout the film.
Cherie is Tony's wife, who seems to be even more fiercely opposed to the monarchy than he is. She regularly disparages the royal family and questions the need for a monarchy. She becomes rather surprised when Tony begins to show signs of sympathy for them.
The Queen (2006 film) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Queen (2006 film) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.