Queen opens home movies vault to give rare glimpse into private life
A new documentary featuring unseen footage from the Queen’s young life promises to offer a glimpse of ‘the fun behind the formality’.
Clips from her personal home movies are being aired for the first time, spanning from the infant princess being pushed in a pram by the Queen Mother to preparing for the coronation 27 years later.
Never-before-seen footage of the monarch includes a shot of a beaming young princess showing off her engagement ring to the camera.
Her 70 years on the throne and early life as a princess have resulted in the Queen being perhaps the most filmed and photographed woman of all time.
But the BBC was granted unprecedented access to intimate recordings belonging to the Queen, her parents and the Duke of Edinburgh to show a seldom seen side to the royals.
The 96-year-old recorded an introductory message for the new documentary, Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen.
In the clip, recorded at Windsor Castle, the Queen 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.
‘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 footage has been kept privately by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute.
It is interspersed with audio from more than 300 of the Queen’s speeches spanning over eight decades.
Unique footage of her father King George VI visiting Balmoral for the last time and Princess Elizabeth alongside her uncle the Duke of Kent, who died in a plane crash in 1942, is also included.
It shows the Queen as a young mother before taking to the throne, playing with infant Prince Charles and Princess Anne and her parents, then King and Queen, playing the role of doting grandparents.
Footage shot by The Queen and Philip in Canada in 1951, her first solo tour, shows the young couple relaxing, a side of royal life omitted from the newsreel footage of those early official occasions.
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.
‘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.’
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.’