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“The thing about granny is that she’s moved with the times and I think people are sort of astounded by her.” - HRH Princess Eugenie
This new landmark documentary paints an in-depth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II during one of the most momentous years of her reign.
The first feature length royal documentary in more than 20 years, Our Queen features unique access during the Diamond Jubilee year to members of the Royal Family, to Her Majesty's staff - some talking for the first time - to her Prime Ministers and to her residences.
Made by the award-winning producer-director, Michael Waldman, and the best-selling royal author and writer, Robert Hardman, for Oxford Film and Television, the documentary follows the Jubilee from the inside.
It also explores the modern Monarchy, delivering an insight into the way the world’s most famous woman leads the world’s best-known royal house, how she balances tradition with modernisation, and how her level of public affection is maintained amid the ever-changing political and social landscape of her reign.
Filmed throughout 2012, this observational two-hour documentary is a study of leadership, judgement and character, set against the spectacular pageantry of the Diamond Jubilee year, which sets out to provide a close perspective of Our Queen and what she means to Britain and the world.
The cameras were present at key moments in privileged positions to capture a fresh, inside perspective on landmark events and engagements from a private lunch held for The Queen and her surviving Prime Ministers, recording the Queen’s Christmas speech, and a lunch for the world’s monarchs in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee to her momentous visit to Northern Ireland, a state visit of a world leader and events held at Buckingham Palace to mark the London Olympics.
The film shows the Queen’s involvement at a personal level in many of these scenarios. We see her greeting guests, inspecting the preparations for a banquet, adjusting the electric fire ahead of a meeting with David Cameron at Buckingham Palace - even Inquiring if the light at Balmoral is adequate for the cameraman ahead of another Prime Minister’s audience.
As she waits for David Cameron she looks out of the window towards the hills and talk turns to the remote hideaway where Queen Victoria would often retreat. As the Queen points out: “She used to make the Prime Minister come and see her up there.”
Contributions from members of the Royal Family including the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal provide revealing anecdotes and insights into how the Queen conducted herself during, and was affected by, some of the memorable moments during the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic year, from the Thames Royal Pageant to her ‘Bond girl role’ at the London 2012 Games opening ceremony.
The film also includes comments from a range of figures who have seen at close quarters the Queen going about her business. Politicians such as Tony Blair, Boris Johnson, Ed Milliband, and William Hague, as well as entertainers David Walliams, Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams share their views on the monarchy, what the Queen actually does in her role and how she engages with people.
Films, books and plays, including the current West End production starring Helen Mirren, The Audience, have all speculated on Prime Minister's private audiences with the Queen, but this documentary allows viewers a rare portal into what really happens. The camera is granted limited access to two of these strictly confidential meetings - one at Buckingham Palace and one at Balmoral.
Edward Young, Deputy Private Secretary to the Queen provides an insight:
“The Prime Minister will appear, whoever it is and you always get the sense that he’s walking just a little bit taller - and in a way it’s understandable because very few of us have the opportunity to be able to talk to someone in total confidence. But even more than that perhaps, to have someone who can say, ‘Well, yes, I remember Winston having a problem a bit like that.’ and who’s able to encourage and occasionally able to raise an eyebrow and say, ‘Are you sure?’”
Prime Minister David Cameron says: “I think Tony Blair said it’s the only private meeting you ever have because there’s just you and her Majesty the Queen in the room, there’s no note-takers, no secretary, nothing, it’s just the two of you.
“So it’s a very frank conversation about everything going on in the world
Mr Cameron also remarks on the atmosphere when he meets the Queen at Balmoral.
He says: “Well, it’s quite informal in that you turn up and the family’s doing whatever the family’s doing, and there is a little bit of choice about whether you want to you know, go and ride a horse or try and catch a fish or go for a walk. You know, even though the Royal Family are on holiday, there isn’t much what you’d call downtime, there’s not much chillaxing at Balmoral, they’re very active.”
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, a cousin of the Queen, talks frankly about the challenges and realities of being monarch.
She says: “You’re brought up with it. It’s imposed on you, yes, but you have consented. You take it on, you know it’s going to be there, and when it happens you say, ‘Yes I will.’”
John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, reflects on the role of the monarch, telling the programme: “If we were starting from scratch, as a country, if we had no history, would we think, ‘Ah, it’s 2012 and we’re starting the existence of our country, let’s begin by creating a monarchy. The answer is almost certainly no. But of course a nation is not something born that day - we are a reflection of what we have been, what we are today, and what we aspire to become.
“I think it’s a fair point to say, ‘If not this, what?’”
The film revisits the historic Thames Jubilee Pageant with those at the centre of it all. HRH the Princess Royal explains that despite the increasingly cold and wet weather, the Queen stayed outside with the Duke of Edinburgh to watch the thousands of boats go by on the Thames.
“I don’t think they went below at all, actually, but they would have felt that it would have been utterly wrong to not have been there.”
In her first television interview since her marriage, HRH The Countess of Wessex talks of the way in which the Queen has been a role model. She also describes the atmosphere at the Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace, which Prince Philip was unable to attend after being taken to hospital.
“It was very poignant, I mean we’d all really found out that my father-in-law had gone into hospital just before the concert, so the moment that the Queen arrived, I remember feeling very emotional at that particular moment, because he should have been there, he should have been by her side and he wasn’t able to be.”
And the film also reveals the true chain of events which led to the Queen’s famous appearance, alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig. Lord Coe admits to initial concerns about the idea and Princess Eugenie recalls the Royal family’s reaction.
“Everyone sort of was amazed that she was in it and was involved by it. And when I spoke to her about it, she was like, ‘Yeah, it’s fun.’ You know, water off a duck’s back, it’s very easy for her because she so wants to be there and show that she can move with the times.”