Imelda Staunton Says She Was ‘Inconsolable’ After Learning Queen Elizabeth II Had Died

Imelda Staunton said that she learned that Queen Elizabeth II had died while on the set of “The Crown” and was only able to internally process her passing after filming ended for the day.

The 67-year-old, who plays the late monarch in seasons five and six of the Netflix show, appeared on “The Graham Norton Show” where she shared her reaction to Her Majesty’s death. When asked if she was filming the series when the Queen died, she replied: “Lesley Manville, who plays Princess Margaret, and myself were filming, and at lunchtime we were told we might hear some sad news.”

Noting that she was at first confused, Staunton added that production then alerted her that it was tied to the Queen’s death. She was then asked if she wanted to stop filming or carry on and she chose the latter.

“We carried on and finished the day and we went home… and weirdly, in the schedule, I had 10 days off, which was the 10 days of mourning. I was inconsolable that night. And I would have been sad, but obviously, I think it was fuelled by living with her for so long,” the actress shared.

Staunton continued: “And then, so I had my ten days, and I didn’t want to watch a lot of things, but I did watch the funeral. And then I filmed the next day, and I think it was very difficult for people looking at me.”

She added: “I got my head around it, got dressed. But then we had a lot of supporting artists in that day, and then ‘The Shape’ walked on. And I think for them, it was quite hard.”

The actress is referring to Queen Elizabeth II’s iconic look in her later years when she talked about “The Shape”. Norton pointed out that it is the version of Her Majesty that people are most familiar with.

Staunton was admittedly affected by the monarch’s death but did not let her emotions get in the way of her work. She previously shared that it was difficult going back on set to portray the Queen after her death.

“It was a bit hard but on we went. You can’t let that really affect what you are doing otherwise you are not doing your job. You’ve had your private grief and then you go to work,” she said.

Queen Elizabeth II died last year on September 8 at Balmoral Castle at the age of 96 and her funeral was on Sep. 19. “The Crown” showrunner Peter Morgan had mostly finished writing the sixth and final season of the series when the monarch died so he had to change the show’s ending to reflect her passing.

Netflix co-chief executive officer Ted Sarandos had initially suggested during the early stages of the show’s development that it should end with the monarch’s death. But then she outlived the series and Morgan thought it was best to end the show’s storyline at the year 2005.

“We’d all been through the experience of the funeral. So because of how deeply everybody will have felt that, I had to try and find a way in which the final episode dealt with the character’s death, even though she hadn’t died yet,” he told Variety.

“It was the cutoff to keep it historical, not journalistic. I think by stopping almost 20 years before the present day, it’s dignified,” he explained.

“The Crown” ends with Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth II seeing a vision of her bagpipe player performing her funeral song, “Sleep, Dearie Sleep”, before she walks out of a church. As she looks over her shoulder, all the show’s previous iterations of the Queen appear. Staunton’s version is then seen walking alone before the chamber doors open and welcome her into a bright white light. The real-life funeral coffin of Queen Elizabeth II also appeared in the series.

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