So let’s see:
A story about a recent event, Diana’s death, but only superficially (acknowledged), really about a cloaked story, the one behind Buckingham’s Palace doors. Uncloaked
So how many levels deep are we? Two. The story itself (the event), and the presentation of an inner one (the ‘play’ happening inside).
This is regular Frears territory. “High Fidelity” worked the same levels: when Cusack was talking at the camera, he was giving us the stuff of the book, and the meta-narrative of commenting on the story. It is much less explicit here because it’s all a play, but it’s an inner play, and that’s well shown.
So The Queen gets her portrait painted in the opening scene. How many levels deep are we? Two just in that scene. The camera framing the Queen (one), and a fixed representation of that framing (the painting). And oh yes, all the while she watches the news (real footage). That’s us.
Tony Blair is nice. But they should have gotten a more intelligent actor. Someone who could span within himself the outer and inner levels, at the same time.