I was a Queen Elizabeth impersonator for 50 years – and people laughed

Queen Elizabeth’s look-alike lives among us – and doesn’t live too far from the monarch.

Jeannette Charles is a retired English actress who has portrayed the King of Britain in films, music videos, commercials, TV talk shows and more for the past 50 years.

“I’ve been interviewed for newspapers, magazines and radio and an agent said my resemblance to the Queen could be an asset,” Charles, 94, recently told the Guardian.

The film queen, who gave up acting in 2014 because of her arthritis, has made a career for herself by being a double for the 96-year-old Sovereign. Charles has appeared in projects such as National Lampoon’s European Vacation, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! and “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

“I’ve appeared on TV chat shows, opened supermarkets, assisted magicians, and shot commercials all over the world. Bands wanted me for music videos, and I gave gifts with Liberace and gave the band Queen a silver record,” Charles recalled.

British rock band Queen poses with actress and Queen Elizabeth II look-alike Jeannette Charles, September 1974. The group are (left to right) drummer Roger Taylor, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and singer Freddie Mercury (1946 - 1991) .  (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
British rock band Queen posed with Charles in September 1974.
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While the look-alike now lives in Essex, England, she got her start in 1972 when she commissioned a portrait of herself for her husband Ken’s birthday.

The painting was then exhibited by artist Jane Thornhill at the Royal Academy in London. Many museum visitors confused the depiction with Queen Elizabeth herself, and the error attracted immense press attention. By this time, Charles was receiving offers to portray the Queen in print advertisements, and she got an agent.

The lifelong dream of the stage star was to become an actress; She even passed an auction at RADA – London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. However, the tuition was too expensive and her “appearance counted against me – no matter what role I took on, I heard comments from the audience and sometimes even laughter.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23: Queen Elizabeth II tapes her annual Christmas broadcast in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle on December 23, 2021 in Windsor, England.  The photograph on the desk is of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, taken in Broadlands, Hampshire, in 2007 on the occasion of their diamond wedding anniversary.  (Photo by Victoria Jones - Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen will celebrate her platinum anniversary on June 2, commemorating 70 years on the throne.
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“But when an agent approached me, I realized there might be a way to use my resemblance to the Queen to my advantage,” she explained to the outlet.

After being signed to a modeling agency, she appeared in a controversial photo spread posing with a stuffed Corgi, the Queen’s favorite dog breed. The media “insisted that the image was disrespectful to the royal family”, although Charles claimed she had “always been a staunch royalist and respected the Queen”.

“I would never do anything that reflects badly on the monarch or myself,” she said. “I don’t think anyone has made a living trying to resemble someone who’s famous before – there’s an entire industry now.”

British impersonator and Queen Elizabeth II look-alike Jeannette Charles pictured with a handbag in the back garden of a house on March 5, 1976. (Photo by United News/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Charles transformed himself into an impersonation of Queen Elizabeth during a photo shoot in a garden in March 1976.
Popper photo via Getty Images

Charles has also met many famous faces throughout her career, including the late comedian Joan Rivers, actor Sacha Baron Cohen as his character Ali G, and more.

She also opened up about how comedic icon Mike Meyers was “lovely” to Charles while working on the 2002 sequel to his 1999 film Austin Powers, even though she once “mistook him for a member of the crew.”

Charles even looked back on doing 1991’s ‘Naked Gun 2’ with stars Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley – both of whom called them ‘charming’. However, she called ’90s scandal kingpin OJ Simpson “rude.”

Jeanette Karl
Jeannette Charles played Queen Elizabeth II in the BBC series “Q7” in 1977.
Radio Times via Getty Images

“Some actors didn’t realize how hard I worked,” Charles remarked. “I’d spent hours perfecting the Queen’s voice and idiosyncrasies, keeping abreast of royal developments so I could reference them in my speeches.”

And while she “won’t be a part of her platinum anniversary party,” she’s more than “happy to watch it on TV like everyone else.”

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