It’s Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee weekend! Reigning over the commonwealth for 70 years is an historic achievement, and the DWC is in a suitably celebratory mood. So whether you’ve put up the bunting and are attending a street party, watching EastEnders and going “wait, was that Prince Charles and Camilla?!”, or trying to ignore the whole thing, there’s one thing that unites us all here: Doctor Who!
That’s why it’s a perfect time to look back at those instances when the Doctor has actually met royalty on TV. It’s happened quite a few times, but perhaps not as often as you might think. It might be because the Doctor does tend to baulk at authority figures — although the Queen seems to get on well with him. (In real life, numerous members of the Royal family reportedly like Doctor Who, including the Queen herself.)
We’re sticking to the British monarchy, because if we didn’t, this list would be verrrryyy long, seeing as we’d have to also account for: the Royal House of Peladon; Nefertiti (and Amy, who claims to be Rory’s queen); Princess Astra; Teka Larchput; Delta and her Chimeron offspring; Merry Gejelh; and more…
Honourable Mention: King John in The King’s Demons
Let’s get this out of the way first off: the Doctor didn’t meet King John in The King’s Demons. He met Kamelion, a shape-shifting android doing the Master’s bidding by trying to stop the signing of Magna Carta. The Master, you see, isn’t too keen on rulers being held accountable and answering to the law.
Magna Carta also included a ban on cruel and unusual punishments, a clause which the Master might have wished for on several other planets including Sarn (where he was seemingly burnt to a crisp), Skaro (exterminated by Daleks), and Carnathon (shoved in a Vault, to be guarded by the Doctor for 1000 years).
1. Queen Elizabeth II in Silver Nemesis
To kick things off properly, let’s revisit the first time Queen Elizabeth II appeared in Doctor Who, here played by an uncredited Mary Reynolds.
This was the Doctor Who 25th anniversary story, featuring the Cybermen, some Nazis, and a glowing, flying statue. It gets a lot of grief from fans, but there’s a lot to enjoy here: namely, the Cybermen, some Nazis, and a glowing, flying statue.
Producer, John Nathan-Turner was keen to highlight the links to a silver jubilee, so requested the inclusion of Windsor Castle. He even sent a letter to Prince Edward, asking him if he’d like to appear — but he declined that offer. Nonetheless, when the TARDIS lands in Windsor, the Seventh Doctor and Ace nearly meet the Queen as she’s walking her corgis.
2. Richard I in The Crusade
The first member of the Royal lineage we saw on screen was actually Richard the Lionheart, who ruled from 1157 to 1199. It was in the 1190s that The Crusade is set. This 1965 serial saw the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki meet King Richard I during his Third Crusade in the Holy Land.
Unusually, the Doctor tried to help the King push for peace — not so odd in itself, except this Doctor, who raged against Barbara trying to make The Aztecs change their violent ways, seemed to want to change time.
King Richard thought the Doctor a traitor for a short period, but they parted on good terms. Ian was even knighted!
3. Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw
However, the Doctor doesn’t always get on well with Royals.
In Tooth and Claw, for example, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler try to keep Queen Victoria from being bitten by a werewolf. They do a decent job, considering this base-under-siege story finds them in a desperate situation with very little reprieve from the Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform.
The Doctor’s jovial nature in the face of danger, his wavering accent, and his representing a world of horrors, though, results in his and Rose’s banishment from the British Empire, plus the establishing of Torchwood. Things do not end well there.
4. Liz Ten in The Beast Below
“Vicky was a bit on the fence about you, weren’t she? Knighted and exiled you on the same day,” says Liz Ten — that is, Queen Elizabeth X, who we met on Starship UK, a giant ship carrying most of the United Kingdom after the Earth was ravaged by solar flares in the 29th Century.
Fortunately, the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond got on well with Liz Ten… until the Doctor found out that this Queen had been wilfully forgetting the fact that humanity’s fate was literally resting on the back of a Space Whale, the last of its species which had come to save whoever it could in what seemed to be the end of days. Again, things eventually work out, but it’s a dark tale for Amy’s first real voyage into time and space.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Liz does tease further adventures for the Time Lord and her ancestors: “Old drinking buddy of Henry Twelve. Tea and scones with Liz Two… And so much for the Virgin Queen, you bad, bad boy.”
5. Charles II in The Impossible Astronaut
Uh, this isn’t what we meant by “adventures”.
When we see the Eleventh Doctor again in Series 6, it’s in a montage of his dodgy dealings in the past, notably his meeting Charles II, who ruled from 1660 to 1685.
This King was furious when he found the Doctor hiding under the skirts of Matilda, an aristocrat who had painted rather a fetching nude study of the time-traveller. So incensed was this sovereign that he imprisoned the Doctor in the Tower of London. Not that he stayed there long: he escaped in a “magical sphere” (actually a hot air balloon) and made the history books.
6. Henry VIII in The Power of Three
King Henry VIII is, of course, best known for having several wives, most of whom didn’t have such happy lives. You’re thinking “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived” right now, aren’t you? Well, he actually had another wife not listed in that phrase. Try fitting “got sent back in time by the Weeping Angels” into that list!
Because King Henry VIII actually married Amy Pond too.
Technically, she just heard someone talking, said “yes?”, and then they all ran away. It’s probably the best thing to do when this Tudor monarch is involved.
Before that, A Town Called Mercy also revealed that Rory left his phone charger in Henry VIII’s bedroom, so fandom started to wonder if that tale actually occurred during The Power of Three.
7 & 8. Elizabeth I in The Shakespeare Code and The Day of the Doctor
This is a pleasing link between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ eras.
William Shakespeare often wrote in the hopes that royalty would come knocking on the Globe’s door (a bit curious, perhaps, given his less-than-favourable portrayal of some kings like Henry V). In The Shakespeare Code, Elizabeth I did actually turn up! And then, she sees the Doctor, demands his head, and the Time Lord and his companion, Martha Jones, had to flee.
We didn’t learn why she was so angry until 2013’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, in which the Doctor marries the Queen then runs off in his TARDIS after promising he’d be “right back”. The filthy liar. Then again, due to his timelines being crossed, he likely doesn’t recall his promise to her…
9. James I in The Witchfinders
Scottish readers will rightfully cry, “James VI, you mean!” Well, yes, that chap. He was the sixth James to rule Scotland, but the first to take the thrown over the UK as a whole.
As with a few other monarchs, King James has cropped up a number of times across various multimedia, but he’s probably the only one to have appeared on TV and an officially-licensed game; that game being The Gunpowder Plot, a 2011 Eleventh Doctor tale, which formed part of The Adventure Games, playable online.
He was then played by Alan Cumming in the Thirteenth Doctor story, The Witchfinders, in which he’s suspicious of women in case they’re fluent in the art of dark magic. The Doctor gets a dunking, Ryan gets a flirting, and events get muddying (that’s not a phrase, but you know what I mean). It’s a fun romp from Series 11, and the first time the Doctor gets a tough time of it simply for being a woman. Bizarrely, it’s also the first serial since Enlightenment to be written and directed by women.
10. Queen Elizabeth II in Voyage of the Damned
And so, we roll back to the current UK monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who here is saved from the Titanic (albeit a spaceship replica) falling from the sky onto Buckingham Palace.
In Voyage of the Damned, it’s established that the Queen and the Doctor have a history, with the former thanking the latter and wishing him merry Christmas. And she’s played by Jessica Martin, aka Mags the Werewolf from The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. Clearly, it’s another hint that the Royal family are werewolves.
Whatever you’re doing, we hope you have a wonderful bank holiday weekend.
And a very happy Platinum Jubilee, ma’am!