How Claire Foy Was Really Able To Transform Into Queen Elizabeth II

Netflix's "The Crown" has seen its fair share of acting royalty portraying Queen Elizabeth II. First airing in 2016, the historical drama has seen British actresses Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, and soon Imelda Staunton play the British monarch (via Us Weekly). But Foy truly set the benchmark of what audiences could expect from the series, which was a challenging task. "If Claire were to put one foot wrong — not just one foot wrong, but one centimeter wrong, one toe wrong — everyone would reject the performance immediately," the show's creator, Peter Morgan, told Backstage.


Thankfully for Morgan, Foy was the perfect choice to bring "a person who is shy by nature, and not five-dimensional," going on to explain that the queen is a "remarkably straightforward, uncomplicated woman in a very complicated predicament" — being coronated at the age of 27 (via the Independent). "Claire manages to do what almost none of the other actors we saw in the audition could do: She dared to be still," Morgan said, adding that "the show would not have been possible without her." But how did Foy portray a young Queen Elizabeth so effortlessly?

Claire Foy focused on training her voice to get into character

Firstly, Claire Foy had to nail Queen Elizabeth II's received pronunciation, i.e., the Queen's English (via The British Library). Dialect coach William Conacher was brought on board to teach Foy — who just so happened to have already taught Helen Mirren the intricacies of the queen's accent for "The Audience" — how to properly speak like the queen (via New York Post). Conacher avoided teaching Foy to do an impression of the queen by focusing on specific voice inflections and phrases, little nuances that would make Foy hard to distinguish from the monarch herself.


For Foy, getting the voice right was essential to get into character. "It wasn't so much her voice but her voice at the time," she told Variety. "That was key to get my head around." Other than being taught by Conacher, Foy "did loads of research" into old footage of the royal family, especially their private home videos. From studying her mannerisms, Foy formulated a trick to help her get into the monarch's mind space. "She plays with her hands and her wedding ring quite a lot. Which is really quite telling," the actress explained. "She's not massively gesticulatory. I tried to remember that she's far more solid and connected to the earth than I am."

The actress had a lot of help from the show's research team

As much research as Claire Foy did to become Queen Elizabeth II, she was disappointed not to have access to the queen's private diaries, according to Vogue — unlike Queen Victoria's journals, which are available to read online. Fortunately for Foy, the research team on "The Crown" had her covered. Researchers would teach the cast about the royal family during rehearsals and provide them with "research materials," the actress told Vogue.


Aside from learning about Queen Elizabeth and the royal family, Foy had to master the monarch's wardrobe. Despite not particularly enjoying the crown because "it is quite heavy," she "loved wearing Wellington boots, kilts, and head scarfs." These outfits, in particular, often made her stop and think how unbelievable the whole situation was. "You can't help but look in the mirror and think, 'Oh, my God, I'm her,'" Foy explained, "because it's so what people don't wear now."

In terms of makeup and hair, makeup artist Ivana Primorac used archive footage of the royal family to capture the essence of the queen as she looked as a young woman. "When [she] was younger, we made sure that the skin was very dewy and light," Primorac told Variety. "As she got older, it got more powdery and more traditional — like the way Her Majesty does her makeup to this day. She uses power, a bit of blush, and lipstick."


Foy won an array of awards for her portrayal of the young British Monarch

For her transformation into a young Queen Elizabeth, Claire Foy was awarded a Golden Globe in 2017 and two Emmys in 2018 and 2021, the latter for a guest appearance in the fourth season of "The Crown" (via Town & Country). "I really wouldn't be here if it wasn't for some extraordinary women, one is Queen Elizabeth II," Foy said during her acceptance speech (via YouTube). "She has been at the center of the world for the past 63 years and I think the world could do with a few more women at the center of it if you ask me."


For Peter Morgan, the creator of "The Crown," Foy's performance was "transformative." "It's what separates the truly great from the merely good: when someone really gives themselves to a role and really connects with the person they're portraying," Morgan told Backstage. A close friend of the queen even told Robert Lacey, a historical consultant on the show, that "they liked the way in which [Foy] is always asking the politicians awkward, common-sense questions," per the New York Post. "Because that's who she is. She's very matter-of-fact, very practical."