The Queen Unseen: New footage of the Royal Family to be shown in ITV documentary

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

Despite being the Monarch for nearly seven decades, new images have emerged of the Queen which have never been seen in public.

The images, taken on Christmas Day in 1953, are being shown in an ITV documentary, The Queen Unseen, on Thursday which has brought together unseen and rare footage of the Queen.

In the December following her Coronation, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were midway through a long tour of the Commonwealth – they were away for nearly six months.

So in New Zealand, where they were spending the Christmas and New Year period, the couple took a break with the Governor General, Sir Willoughby Norrie, and his wife, Patricia, in Wellington.

As Christmas falls in the summer in the southern hemisphere, the royal party spent the day at a private pool where Lady Norrie took her own private footage of the day.

The Queen is shown receiving gifts from Father Christmas who arrived in a carriage on the lawns of Government House.

The Queen, we are told, was given a Christmas stocking containing a dog lead and Prince Philip’s present was a Wedgewood ashtray.

The daughter of the Governor General, was 10-years-old at the time, and in the ITV programme Sarah Stephenson recalls how “terribly exciting” it was “to have the whole Royal Party staying in your home".

At the pool, the intimate footage shows the Queen relaxing and watching her husband play in the water, as he made several unsuccessful attempts to climb onto a lilo.

Sarah Stephenson said: “The Duke of Edinburgh is trying to get on his lilo and he has to have several attempts. The royal couple knew that we were filming they didn't seem to mind that we were."

The Queen is also seen using her own cinematic camera. She had been a keen maker of home movies ever since her father, King George VI gave her a box camera before the war.

The royals seen relaxing by the pool in new footage on ITV's documentary The Queen Unseen. Credit: ITV/The Queen Unseen

Watching her mother’s footage of the Queen smiling to the camera, Sarah Stephenson said: "That was the Queen's smile which my mother very cleverly caught. It was great fun. We loved it."

The Queen’s smile is also caught on another private camera some twenty years later.

At that point, Her Majesty was on an official royal tour to the then Yugoslavia – her first ever visit to a Communist country.

As she met the President, General Tito, his personal cameraman was taking pictures.

They show the Queen laughing with the General, while sitting in a golf-type buggy after he hooted the horn.

And there is some rare footage of the Queen eating, which is not often seen, as she peels an orange which had just been picked from a tree in the Belgrade garden they were visiting.

The Queen was sent to charm the Communist leader a decade before the US, and Russia – along with the UK’s help – started the process of ending the Cold War.

The Queen rides with President Tito in Belgrade in 1972. Credit: ITV/The Queen Unseen

Once again, the rare footage illustrates the soft diplomatic power of the Royal Family which the UK government likes to employ on these tours – and which is still used to this day.

Throughout her long reign, millions of people have watched the Queen in public, either in person or on television, but we now have on film some additional moments of relaxation in private, which no one has seen - until now.

  • Watch The Queen Unseen on Thursday at 9pm on ITV and on the ITV Hub.

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