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The Death That Changed A Nation
In August of 1997, Princess Diana, arguably one of the most famous and idolized women in all the world, died in a disastrous car crash on the streets of Paris. The global population was sent reeling into shock, the media went into a frenzy – and, in England, where total reserve once held sway, a remarkable sea change appeared to take place in the very fabric of society as the public came forth in unexpected displays of profound grief and emotion.

The resounding impact of the tragedy was felt in an entirely different way in the corridors of power. Behind closed doors, an intensely private battle of wills erupted between the newly elected British government and the Royal Family over how to handle the incident. Diana was already a highly contentious figure. Following her separation from Prince Charles, the Princess had refused to sit quietly in the background and disappear from public life, causing anguish for the Royals. Now, in the wake of her passing, the Queen and her family did what they were used to doing in the midst of family tragedy – they hunkered down in their own concealed world of ritual and protocol, hiding away at their Scottish retreat in Balmoral, only to be persuaded unwillingly into the public eye by the brash and powerful new Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

This remarkable clash between a regal Monarch trying to fulfill her ancient mandate and a savvy master of contemporary political public relations forms the heart of THE QUEEN. As a story, the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana could offer endless easy angles for a filmmaker: a terrifying car chase by ruthless paparazzi; a celebrity devastatingly killed in her prime; a controversial love affair cut short before it could blossom; and a press corps accused of causing the death of the woman with whom they were so obsessed.

Yet THE QUEEN takes an entirely fresh approach – peering instead at the resonating effects of Diana's death as it shook the very foundations of Britain's relationship with its own monarchy. For director Stephen Frears, the hope was that THE QUEEN would provide a wholly unexpected view of the world's most famous monarch. "The whole institution is quite ludicrous, so it's easy to make the Royal Family seem even more ridiculous than they are. That's what goes on all the time in England; there's a constant mockery,” Frears notes. "But we focused on quite the opposite, on their human qualities in this crisis and as people denied a real life in a way. The Queen recently had her 80th birthday and it seems from a lot of the articles written that many people agree that, while the institution is idiotic and inappropriate, the woman is extraordinary.”

Drawn to the subject of contemporary British society, there seemed to be no more compelling story to tell than that of how the Royal Family clashed with both Tony Blair and the prevailing mood of the British public after Diana's death – reflecting all at once the vanishing potency of the monarchy, the ascendancy of the Prime Minister and the catalytic shift to a more demonstrative, open and image-driven British populace.

"Andy, Stephen, Pete and I wanted to team up on a film about another great British institution,” says Langan. "The Royal Family was an obvious choice and the death of Diana and how the Royal Family coped with that quickly emerged as the most promising subject. Diana had been a great cause of tension while she was alive; it was inevitable that her death would present the Monarchy with perhaps its biggest challenge of the past 50 years.”

Langan continues, "The most fascinating part of the story was the idea of looking into what went on behind the scenes. You had a brand new government for which there were huge expectations but four months into his premiership, Tony Blair hadn't really delivered a striking gesture. Suddenly,<

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