Buckingham Palace and the BBC have announced details of a special 75-minute programme to be shown on BBC One revealing unseen private home movies of The Queen as a young girl and telling the real story of her life as a Princess – through her own eyes and in her own words from across her reign.
Three never-before-seen images of a young Princess Elizabeth taken from the documentary have also been released by the producers to accompany the announcement.
Since the 1920s, the Royal Family have always filmed each other, but for decades hundreds of these reels of home-made recordings have been held privately by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute (BFI).
Now, for this documentary, The Queen has granted the BBC unprecedented access to the footage, taking us inside Her Majesty’s life as never before through home movies shot by her, her parents, Prince Philip, and others. It reveals The Queen’s journey from earliest childhood, being pushed in a pram as a baby by her mother, to her Coronation at the age of just 27 in 1953, following the death of her father George VI in 1952.
The documentary takes us behind the scenes of The Queen’s upbringing and reveals the warmth of her relationship with her parents. It captures the first extended visit of Prince Philip to Balmoral in 1946 while the couple’s engagement was still not public – a beaming Princess Elizabeth showing the camera her engagement ring.
It shows Princess Elizabeth as a young mother, with The King and Queen as fond grandparents to Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Other rare moments include her grandfather George V sailing with The Queen Mother off the Isle of Wight in 1931, footage of Princess Elizabeth with her uncle Prince George, The Duke of Kent, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1942 while on active service - and a poignant glimpse of the Royal Family at Balmoral in 1951, The King’s last visit there.
BBC Studios, who produced the film, viewed over 400 reels of film and discovered lost newsreel given to The Queen and behind the scenes recordings of state events, believed to have been privately commissioned by the Royal Family.
Unlike conventional documentaries featuring interviews and narration, Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen relies largely on The Queen’s own voice and words, alongside newsreel audio. The filmmakers listened to over three hundred of The Queen’s speeches, spanning over eight decades. The result is a visually rich and immersive film of unparalleled historical record.
Simon Young, the BBC’s Commissioning Editor for History says: “We are honoured that The Queen has entrusted the BBC with such unprecedented access to her personal film collection. This documentary is an extraordinary glimpse into a deeply personal side of the Royal Family that is rarely seen, and it's wonderful to be able to share it with the nation as we mark her Platinum Jubilee.”
Claire Popplewell, Creative Director for BBC Studios Events Productions added: “As programme-makers who have previously worked closely with the Royal Household on ceremonial and celebratory broadcast events and programmes, the production team were under no illusion quite how special having access to this very personal archive was. Being able to draw upon the self-recorded history of a young Princess Elizabeth and her wider family - and allowing The Queen to tell us her own story - is the very heart of this film.”
The documentary will debut on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 29th May.