‘The fun behind the formality’: Queen shares family home videos for the first time

UK

The Queen has allowed the world to see “the fun behind the formality” of her royal life in home movies that have been released for the first time.

The clips, which span her life from being a baby pushed in a pram by her mother to her coronation in 1953 at the age of 27, feature in a new documentary to mark her Platinum Jubilee.

The makers of the BBC film “Elizabeth – The Unseen Queen” were given unprecedented access to over 400 hours of Her Majesty’s family home videos.

Only last week the Queen agreed to record her thoughts on why the collection is so special and hinted at why she was so keen for them to be seen by the public.

Princess Elizabeth with her father the then Duke of York in the garden of their home 145 Piccadilly, London in 1930.
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Princess Elizabeth with her father the then Duke of York in the garden of their home 145 Piccadilly in 1930
Princess Elizabeth is seen with her uncle Prince George the Duke of Kent at Windsor Castle in 1930
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Princess Elizabeth is seen with her uncle Prince George the Duke of Kent at Windsor Castle in 1930

In the message, which was recorded at Windsor Castle, she says: “Cameras have always been a part of our lives.

“I think there’s a difference to watching a home movie when you know who it is on the other side of the lens, holding the camera. It adds to the sense of intimacy. Like many families, my parents wanted to keep a record of our precious moments together. And when it was our turn with our own family, we did the same.

“I always enjoyed capturing family moments. Private photos can often show the fun behind the formality.”

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She adds: “I expect just about every family has a collection of photographs or films that were once regularly looked at to recall precious moments but which, over time, are replaced by newer images and more recent memories.

“You always hope that future generations will find them interesting, and perhaps be surprised that you too were young once.”

The 75-minute programme is largely narrated with the Queen’s own words, using clips and newsreel audio from her speeches to explain what viewers are seeing and show what has mattered to her throughout her reign.

Princess Elizabeth with her grandmother Queen Mary
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Princess Elizabeth with her grandmother Queen Mary
Princess Elizabeth, aged 20, enjoying a visit to South Africa in 1947
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Princess Elizabeth, aged 20, enjoying a visit to South Africa in 1947

Clips released to promote the programme show a young Princess Elizabeth on holiday in Balmoral with her parents and sister Margaret, as well as family videos filmed on her first tour abroad, with her family to South Africa when she was 20.

It was during that tour that she would make her famous empire speech to mark her 21st birthday, committing herself to a life of service and duty.

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BBC Studios Productions creative director Claire Popplewell said: “I think the film demonstrates the love and fondness Her Majesty’s father, King George VI, had for his daughters Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

“There’s a scene of him playing football and doing rough and tumble with the two princesses as very young children that is particularly touching.”

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth, right, with their father King George VI onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947
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Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth, right, with their father King George VI onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947
Princess Elizabeth, left, is seen dancing with Princess Margaret at Royal Lodge in Windsor in 1940
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Princess Elizabeth, right, is seen dancing with Princess Margaret at Royal Lodge in Windsor in 1940
Princess Elizabeth, left, Princess Margaret, centre, and Prince Philip relax at a picnic at Balmoral in 1946.
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Princess Elizabeth, left, Princess Margaret, centre, and Prince Philip relax at a picnic at Balmoral in 1946

Ms Popplewell continued: “And like all families, they like to play up to the camera – no more evident than the home movie in South Africa while they are on their three-day break. Prince Philip does too – playing for the camera in a trappers hat during a break on the Canada tour in 1951.

“There’s a wonderful extended montage of Prince Philip – water-skiing, playing chase with a dog, riding the children’s toy vehicles – which, combined with the Queen’s words about him, is incredibly moving.”

“Little things like successive generations wheeling small children around on wicker garden sun loungers give a sense of the family’s traditions,” she adds.

Princess Elizabet, right, and Princess Margaret at Balmoral in 1939
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Princess Elizabeth, right, and Princess Margaret at Balmoral in 1939
Princess Elizabeth is seen at Royal Natal National Park during a visit to South Africa in 1947
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Princess Elizabeth is seen at Royal Natal National Park during a visit to South Africa in 1947

The last scenes show a composed Queen being photographed after her coronation, complete with family group shots, children wanting to race around and Philip looking kindly at his wife.

Ms Popplewell said: “Then in the final shot, just her, she smiles and swallows. That swallow is so very human.”

The programme will been shown on BBC One on Sunday night.

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