British director Stephen Frears had previously worked with Peter Morgan, the screenwriter for The Queen, on The Deal, in 2003. The Deal looked at the Blair-Brown deal, in which Gordon Brown agreed to let Tony Blair run for the Labour party leadership election in 1994, and featured Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, the role he reprised in The Queen. While The Deal was not as big of a box-office hit as The Queen, it was very well received at the time of its release.
Frears had a clause in his contract from The Deal that entitled him to direct follow-ups to the film. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Frears said, "If you were making a film about the death of Diana, you wouldn't normally tell it from the queen's point of view. That was [Peter's] originality...Suddenly the idea of going inside, that's what's so original about it." While Frears sought to maintain historical accuracy, the film obviously takes liberties, and becomes a more intimate examination of the royals. In an interview with Slate, Frears suggested that The Queen, despite appearances, was not a typical film about monarchy: "I don't think the film has anything to do with conventional questions about monarchy...It's about tradition and change. Blair came to power as the great modernizer. I’m just reading Stefan Zweig’s autobiography. He makes it very clear that change is both good and bad. You can’t just say that change is good. It is good and bad. You could say that the film is critical of the institution—but not particularly of the queen. It was only once I started coming to America that I realized I wasn’t a citizen, I was a subject. And I began to think about the implications of that."
Frears was celebrated for his direction of the film, which was heralded as sensitive, moving, and more than a little cheeky. For his work, Frears was nominated for a second Academy Award, and the film won Best Film at the 2006 BAFTA Awards. In his review of the film for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers wrote, "Stephen Frears directs with an eye for telling detail and an ear for the emotions roiling under polite royal speech."