The writer of the Oscar-winning movie ‘The Queen’ has accused Tony Blair of lifting some of his lines for the former prime minister’s autobiography.
The book, ‘My Journey’, was published five years after the release of the movie and the screenwriter, Peter Morgan, has said Blair’s memory of conversations with the Queen has ‘sort of become blurred’.
Morgan, 55, was nominated for 13 Emmys on his work for the 2006 movie and he has also accused Blair of ‘pretending’ not to have seen the film.
Helen Mirren starring as Queen Elizabeth II in ‘The Queen’ written by Peter Morgan
The Bafta-winning screenwriter was a guest on a US radio show and told the host: ‘There came a moment after the film that I wrote, The Queen, had come out where Tony Blair was asked about his audience with the Queen.
‘And in his book, his autobiography, which, of course, came out many years after we made The Queen, Tony Blair, when referring back to that critical period in the aftermath of Diana’s death, used a number of expressions and quotations that seemed to be very familiar because they sounded like my dialogue.’
The 2006 movie focuses on that period in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death and the resulting media maelstrom and its knock-on effect on Blair’s relationship with the Queen.
Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen as Queen Elizabeth II in ‘The Queen’ written by Peter Morgan
Morgan continued: ‘I remember thinking, ‘Well, hang on a minute. That can’t be right’, That it can’t be right that I got it right. I can’t of got that right.
‘I think we were all pretty confident we knew what Tony Blair represented. We knew what the Queen thought.
‘But surely he didn’t say the very things that I’ve written that he said?’
Queen Elizabeth II receiving Prime Minister Tony Blair at Buckingham Palace in May 2007
Morgan then allegedly contacted colleagues he worked on the movie with to ask if they had read the former Prime Minister’s autobiography.
He said: ‘It’s both funny but also sobering because you suddenly realise that, once you watch something on film, it becomes that thing. It becomes the way it was.
‘So much of what I write can’t be exactly the way it was because I don’t know. I’m just guessing.
‘For Blair to have taken those imaginations or guesses and to reconstruct them as the truth was confusing in his own account.’
Peter Morgan, Bafta-winning screenwriter, made the claims about Blair on a US radio show
Morgan added: ‘He said, ‘I then said that’. I was like, ‘Well, you didn’t. At least, I don’t think you did. If you did, what a stroke of luck on my behalf. But I’m pretty sure you’re actually just quoting what I wrote, which you have watched and which you’ve subsequently denied that you’ve watched but which you’ve clearly watched.’
Blair’s autobiography, A Journey: My Political Life was released in 2011, five years after Morgan’s work took centre stage in The Queen.
Despite Morgan’s comments, a spokesman for Blair said: ‘He has never watched The Queen.’
Michael Sheen played Blair in the movie while the Queen was played by Helen Mirren.
Movie lines similar to Blair’s words
Almost 100,000 copies of ‘A Journey’ are believed to have been sold in only four days
In the film, Tony Blair tells his spokesman Alastair Campbell after the death of Diana: ‘This is going to be massive, I better make a statement in the morning.’
In his book, Blair wrote: ‘I knew this was going to be a major national, in fact global, event like no other.
I had to articulate what would be a tidal wave of grief and loss in a way that was dignified but also expressed the emotion and love people felt for her.’
In the film, Helen Mirren, playing the Queen, tells Michael Sheen as Mr Blair: ‘You are my tenth Prime Minister, Mr Blair. The first, of course, was Winston Churchill. He sat in your chair in a frock-coat and top hat.’
In his book, Tony Blair writes: ‘you are my tenth prime Minister. the first was Winston. That was before you were born.’
In the film, a scene of the Queen’s private secretary watches the ‘people’s princess’ speech on a television surrounded by Royal staff. He says: ‘Bit over the top, isn’t it?’
In his book, Blair said: ‘The phrase ‘people’s princess’ now seems like something from another age. And corny. And over the top.’