I read a lot of biographies about the kings and queens of England but I don’t watch royal documentaries. The only one I’ve watched was five years ago on the occasion of The Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th birthday. So it is fitting for me to also watch a documentary to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
The programme was produced by ITV, and the crew was granted access to follow the Queen for a year filming her daily routine such as the opening of the red box and reading its contents, meeting with the Prime Minister, and also three of the most important annual events at the Buckingham Palace: the summer garden party, the state dinner for a visiting dignitary, and the diplomatic reception. The documentary was packed with carefully chosen video clips and photographs from the royal archive: from the day she was born to her teenage years, the Second World War and her marriage, up to the time she came to the throne at the age of twenty-five with the sudden death of her father. Current footages of her engagements, both public (like her trip to Malta last year), and ‘off-duty’ (feeding her horses) were also included and I find them all pretty fascinating. But I found the most sentimental footage of the two-hour programme was that of the Queen and her horses. That’s when she seems relaxed, showing affection and laughing, and seemingly ‘at home’ with her ‘friends.’ She’s known for her love of horses and amazingly, at 90, her main leisure activity is still riding her horses at Windsor.
There were interviews of some celebrities, world leaders as well as ordinary people whose lives have been touched by the monarch. There’s also a variety of royal voices with several members of her family giving some of the most heart-warming stories about Her Majesty not just as a queen but also as a mother and grandmother. The younger royals such as Princes William and Harry, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, seem to have been able to reconcile the queen’s public and private personas, and have spoken about their deep respect and admiration for their grandmother. The Duchess of Cambridge told a story about a nerve-wracking experience she had with the royal family: not knowing what to give the Queen as a Christmas present but she ended up giving her a homemade chutney using her grandma’s recipe and she was delighted to see it on the breakfast table the next day. The Duchess also emphasised the Queen’s influence on her life and how the monarch has been incredibly supportive as she adjusted to life in the public eye. She also shared stories of the monarch’s fondness for Charlotte (the Queen being so keen on asking what the little princess is up to), and George (who calls his great-grandma ‘gan-gan’).
The Queen grew up in the constant glare of publicity but she seems to avoid the limelight, and never gives an interview. Our Queen At 90 is an observational documentary so don’t expect someone asking her a question. The ITV crew remained discreet but were able to capture some of the most intimate portrait of royal life, and it is probably the closest to an interview that Queen Elizabeth will ever give to the public. She is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, and at 90, she seems to be playing her role to perfection. That is something Prince Charles and the younger royals should emulate.
As I’ve mentioned in an old post, The Queen’s 63-year reign, I am a royalist, and I make no apologies for it. I am a great supporter of Her Majesty and I want to keep our monarchy and maintain it as an institution. I believe that the monarchy provides a sense of stability and continuity and plays a great role in strengthening national unity despite periods of significant social and political change.
Our Queen At 90 is a documentary of her life and her reign which I very much enjoyed. It’s indeed a remarkable story of an extraordinary life. If you haven’t seen it last night, please do watch it.
Here’s the link for those of you who live in the UK. Our Queen At 90
Outside the UK, this link should work.
Update: Regrettably ITV had removed the videos and I couldn’t find it on youtube or anywhere else. Alternatively, here’s another documentary that Sky News made Special Report on The Queen’s 90th
(Featured Image: The Telegraph. The Queen at the annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham.)