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THE QUEEN

Writing The Royals
Right from the start, it was clear that THE QUEEN had the potential to spark a firestorm of controversy. "What's so powerful about the idea is its very audacity – you are making a film about a living monarch,” comments Andy Harries.

Adds screenwriter Peter Morgan, "What's most daring about it is that it isn't a satire. It's a story that dares to paint people in power as complex, rounded, conflicted human beings just like you and me. There's real no tradition for this sort of thing outside of comedy.”

Thus it was that it was in tackling the screenplay, Morgan knew he would have to break new ground in transforming two very real people who are still very much in the headlines – The Queen of England and the country's Prime Minister – into dramatic characters facing a moment of personal and national crisis. The key would be maintaining authenticity without ever crossing the line into caricature.

He began, as any writer does, with intensive research. There were two main areas of inquiry: one was related to the regimented protocol that surrounds the Queen, from how she is served her breakfast to how she whiles away the days at her retreat in Balmoral; and the other was forming a detailed time-line of what was known to have happened during the days between Diana's death and her public funeral.

"In some ways it was very similar to researching any story that takes place in a closed society – you have to try to work your way in and to understand what makes these characters tick,” explains Morgan.

Fortunately, Morgan had access to an exceptional array of inside sources from his work on "The Deal,” as well as from his personal and social life. Additionally, he conducted extensive interviews with anyone he could find who might have had close contact with the Queen, Blair or members of the Royal Family – from personal tailors to stable hands. "I went to see everyone and anyone who would talk,” recalls Morgan. "At first they would usually start out very tight-lipped – ‘Oh, no I can't say anything' – but suddenly they would open up and you'd start to hear ‘And here's another thing . . . and another thing.' People wanted to share their stories.'”

Morgan also watched reels and reels of footage of the Queen to get a better sense of her speech patterns and mannerisms. At the same time, he had a team of researchers filtering information and poring through archive press and television material for further clues and sources.

"There are a lot of biographers of both the Royal Family and the Blairs, and they all have their sources from equerries to secretaries to butlers to maids to civil servants,” Morgan notes. "There's a lot of material out there, but it was always a question of sifting the real from the embellished.'”

To further helping Morgan gain real insight into the Royal Family and its ways, he consulted with biographers Robert Lacey and Ingrid Seward. A world-renowned author whose books are meticulously researched and eschew sensationalism, Lacey's works include Royal: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen Mother, Princess and the first serious biography of the Queen, Majesty: Elizabeth II and the House of Windsor. Seward is editor in chief of Majesty magazine, a well-respected commentator on the Royals and had unrivalled access to Princess Diana when she wrote her best-sellers The Queen & Di: The Untold Story and Diana: An Intimate Portrait.

As for surprises that came along the way, Morgan offers: "I didn't know that Charles had been afraid for his life that week for one thing. But I think the biggest surprise is that I hadn't entirely come to terms with the extent that we in Britain haven't worked out what we want from our Royals. If we want to abolish them, we should abolish them. If we want to keep them, then let's define that -- b

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