Queen recalls family home movies that remind her she was 'young once'

Chris Ship reports on the newly released footage of the Queen that has never before been shown in public.

The Queen has spoken of her love of home movies as she personally approved the release of 400 reels of film from her private collection. She said the cinefilm footage that she and her family shot many decades ago created a “sense of intimacy” because “you know who is on the other side of the lens." The footage will be shown in a documentary, Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which will be broadcast this weekend ahead of the main Platinum Jubilee celebrations next week.

The programme shows a young Princess Elizabeth playing with her sister Margaret and messing around in the garden with her father, King George VI. “Cameras have always been a part of our lives," the Queen said in a recorded audio message for the documentary.

Footage from Elizabeth: The Queen Unseen from BBC Studio Productions shows the Queen and her sister, Margaret, on the deck of HMS Vanguard as they sailed from the UK to South Africa for a Royal Tour in 1947

The Royal Family started filming each other in the 1920s and the Queen’s parents used to film her when she was young. “Like many families, my parents wanted to keep a record of our precious moments together," the Queen said, “and when it was our turn with our own family, we did the same."

Hundreds of the home-made recordings have been stored privately by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute.

The movies that the Queen authorised for release include those shot by her, Prince Philip and by her parents King George and Queen Elizabeth. The family is shown playing on the deck of HMS Vanguard as they sailed from the UK to South Africa for a Royal Tour in 1947, ahead of Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday. They show her as a young girl enjoying the peace of the Highlands on family stays in Balmoral. It includes the earliest known footage of Elizabeth in a pram shortly after she was born in 1926.

The Queen can be seeing enjoying the Royal family's holiday home, Balmoral

There is even one poignant sequence involving her Uncle David, who went on to become King Edward VIII - and subsequently abdicated. Before that crisis in 1936, David, the eldest of King George V’s children, and his younger brother Berite (the Queen’s father), were filmed having some sibling fun in a garden.

“Private photos can often show the fun behind the formality," the Queen said, and there is lots of footage of her enjoying her childhood. She recorded her words on May 19 and spoke of how the home movies reminded her of precious moments in years gone by.

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The Queen said: “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.” With a week to go until people across the country mark the Monarch’s 70 years of reign, the Queen said of the films: “You always hope that future generations will find them interesting, and perhaps be surprised that you too were young once.”

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen is on BBC One on Sunday 29 May.