The Sex Pistols hit the target with "God Save The Queen," surely the best send-up of Liz.

God save the stream: 7 pieces of pop culture to mark Elizabeth II's passing

From punk rock classics to anti-royal anthems to warm-hearted docs, here’s what to watch and listen to.

In the 23 hours since Queen Elizabeth II’s death was announced, the internet has, perhaps predictably, cleaved in two: There’s those mourning the longest-reigning British monarch and then there’s those who are taking this moment to talk about how she was a proponent of and symbol for ongoing colonial horror. In the 11 days until her funeral (which will be at Westminster Abbey, CBC reports), the think pieces are bound to churn.


As you get your handle on this era-ending news, choose from these seven things—from songs to documentaries to TV series—to stream about the late ruler:


The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead

Leave it to Morrissey to out-ice the notoriously cold Liz herself with this frosty lyrical takedown that’s also a classic of ‘80s goth. The third studio album The Smiths gifted the world, this LP has been called one of the greatest albums ever made by both NME and Rolling Stone.


The Crown

What do you call historical fiction that’s so recent it borders on current events? That’s the territory famed Netflix drama The Crown has been creeping towards with each successive season—to the point that news of the Queen’s passing actually halted production of the show’s upcoming season. The show is pure opulence for monarchists, girlboss-ifying a young Lizzie in the early seasons before presenting her and Thatcher as amiable-but-opposing poles of feminism later on. It’s a lot, but so are the sets and costumes—so, you do you. (Viewable on Netflix.)


The Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen”

Punk music was the cultural upset that turned British traditionalism on its head—and this can perhaps be summed up no better than in The Sex Pistols’ famous single, which was released during Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee (a nice touch). An ascent on the charts which stopped at number 2 (which has long led punks to argue the BCC rigged the song’s success), there might be no better known send-up to the UK’s top gal. At the time (1977), the song was considered wildly controversial, thanks to lyrics which equate the queen with a fascist regime and for quotable lines like "there is no future in England's dreaming".


Bob Vylan’s “England's Ending”

UK hardcore-grime duo Bob Vylan has been making waves since the release of its debut LP, 2019’s Dread. While the band can always be counted on to deliver a rough-edged dose of social commentary, the track “England's Ending” takes more direct aim at the Queen and all the others in power they see as responsible for the country’s current demise—both picking up where The Sex Pistols left off and pushing it further than the '70s act would’ve dared: The intro lyrics say “This country's in dire need of a… good overhaul, get the fucking dinosaurs out/Yeah, and kill the fucking queen/She killed Diana, we don't love her anyway”


The Queen

Helen Mirren—the UK’s answer to Merryl Streep—took home the Oscar for best actress for her turn as Elizabeth II in this 2006 biopic directed by Stephen Frears. The flick also cleaned up at the BAFTAS and the box office—with Mirren dedicating every win along the way to the real Liz. This means, obvs, that it’s a glowing portrait of the now-late monarch, FYI. (Rent it on Youtube.)


Elizabeth: A Portrait in Parts

This 2022 offering is described by The Guardian as being “dangerously fun to watch for a royal documentary.” Director Roger Mitchell’s (Notting Hill) final film before his death, the doc grapples with the sheer size of Elizabeth’s legacy (the logline notes she is “longest reigning British monarch and longest serving female head of state in history”) while also offering a peek behind the curtain to her “poetic and even mischievous” personal life, thanks to reams of historic footage. If you’re looking for Kleenex content, this is probably it. (Rent it via Prime Video.)


Slowathi’s Nothing Great About Britain

Bajan-british rapper Slowthai dropped this Brexit-era rallying cry to instant critical acclaim, landing an eight point four review from Pitchfork. Tackling themes of class inequality and hostility, it’s straight bars while also being a primer on the case for anti-monarchism. Get ready to be dropped in the deep end here: If you can comprehend the MC’s accent, you’ll catch the record opens with him calling the queen a c*nt before reminding her respect is a two-way street.

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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