The Queen ‘didn’t ban the 1969 documentary about the Royal Family’ but thought it was a ‘triumph’, says biographer
The Queen ‘did not ban the 1969 Royal Family documentary’ from being shown on television and instead viewed it as a triumph, a royal biographer has claimed.
The Royal Family took part in the film, which was a combined effort between the BBC and ITV, with the aim of showing they were like their subjects, who quickly became a British phenomenon.
It was watched over two weekends to rave reviews in June 1969, but was last shown three years later after Buckingham Palace feared it was ‘letting the magic out’ of the Royal Family .
However, in the new book Queen of Our Times, Daily Mail columnist Robert Hardman claimed that many members of the royal family were delighted with the film, even dubbing it ‘Carry On Reigning’.
He wrote: “Half a century later, some commentators have suggested the family quickly came to see it all as a terrible mistake, never to be seen again – a view reinforced by The Crown. Those in the royal household remember the opposite.
Hardman has covered the royal family extensively for the Daily Telegraph and since 2001 has written for the Daily Mail.
The Queen ‘did not ban the 1969 Royal Family documentary’ and instead considered it a triumph, a royal biographer has claimed
And unlike the film banned from appearing on screen because it offended the Queen, Hardman said it was not shown due to copyright issues.
He wrote: “From the start, the film was only supposed to have a limited run before being locked up.
“The royal family was not a newsreel, like the coronation or a state visit. Rather, he was seen as a personal snapshot of his time.
“The Queen retained the copyright and did not want the material to be extracted or adapted for years.”
Writing in the new book Queen of Our Times, Robert Hardman argued that many members of the royal family were in fact delighted with the film, even dubbing it “Carry On Reigning”.
The idea for the documentary, which aired in June 1969, came from the palace’s new royal press secretary, William Heseltine, rather than the Duke of Edinburgh, as the Netflix host claims.
Heseltine wanted to encourage public support for a monarchy increasingly seen as out of touch.
The program was met with acclaim and proved so popular that it was broadcast again the same year and once again in 1972.
But has not been shown in full since, but short extracts from the documentary were made available as part of an exhibition for the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Unlike the film banned from appearing on screen because it offended the Queen, Hardman said it was not shown due to copyright issues.
However, For the most part, the original documentary remains under lock and key, with researchers having to pay to view it at BBC headquarters, only after getting clearance from Buckingham Palace.
“You’re killing the monarchy, you know, with that movie you’re making,” legendary anthropologist and wildlife expert David Attenborough wrote angrily in 1969 to the producer-director of the controversial and groundbreaking television documentary, Royal Family.
“The whole institution depends on the mystic and the tribal leader in his hut,” continued Attenborough, then BBC 2 controller.
“If ever a member of the tribe sees inside the hut, then the whole system of tribal leadership is damaged and the tribe eventually disintegrates,” he said.
For the most part, the original documentary remains under lock and key, with researchers having to pay to view it at BBC headquarters, only after first securing clearance from Buckingham Palace.
Filmmaker Bryan Forbes said, “If you let the genie out of the bottle, you can never put the cork back. And a lot of people think, in hindsight, that was a mistake.”
Meanwhile, Netflix’s The Crown also reinforced the story that the Queen viewed the documentary negatively.
In the fourth episode of series three of The Crown, the royals are shown taking part in the documentary which sees cameras follow them through their daily lives, to prove how “normal” they are.
And in a scene likened to BBC comedy The Royle Family, the royals sit together on a sofa to watch the show.
In The Crown, Ms Colman, center as Queen, Marion Bailey as Queen Mother, left, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, right, sit down to watch the Gogglebox-style documentary
Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth appears to cast an awkward look as she sits with Princess Margaret, played by Helena Bonham Carter, and Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother.
Princess Margaret of Helena then jokes: “It’s nothing like a normal evening, if it was a normal evening we’d be all alone in sad isolation in our individual palaces.”
“It wouldn’t be crowded like that, it’s like a nightmarish Christmas.”