Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which will be broadcast on Sunday for a BBC Jubilee Tribute, includes highlights from more than 400 hours of the Royal Family’s private home movie footage. A clip from the documentary is pictured, with the Queen on a trip to South Africa on HMS Vanguard in 1947
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Cameras, the Queen says, have always been part of the lives of the Royal Family.

‘I think there’s a difference to watching a home movie when you know who it is on the other side of the lens, holding the camera. It adds to the sense of intimacy,’ she says in a rare voice-over for a BBC Platinum Jubilee tribute.

In a recording made at Windsor last week, she explains: ‘Like many families, my parents wanted to keep a record of our precious moments together. And when it was our turn with our own family, we did the same.

‘I always enjoyed capturing family moments. Private photos can often show the fun behind the formality.

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which will be broadcast on Sunday for a BBC Jubilee Tribute, includes highlights from more than 400 hours of the Royal Family’s private home movie footage. A clip from the documentary is pictured, with the Queen on a trip to South Africa on HMS Vanguard in 1947

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which will be broadcast on Sunday for a BBC Jubilee Tribute, includes highlights from more than 400 hours of the Royal Family’s private home movie footage. A clip from the documentary is pictured, with the Queen on a trip to South Africa on HMS Vanguard in 1947

‘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.

‘You always hope that future generations will find them interesting, and perhaps be surprised that you too were young once.’

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which will be broadcast on Sunday, includes highlights from more than 400 hours of the Royal Family’s private home movie footage.

The 75-minute programme covers the 96-year-old monarch’s life from birth up to the moment just before her coronation in 1953. George VI pictured between Margaret, left, and Elizabeth on 1947 tour

The 75-minute programme covers the 96-year-old monarch’s life from birth up to the moment just before her coronation in 1953. George VI pictured between Margaret, left, and Elizabeth on 1947 tour

These are woven together with a voiceover comprised of extracts from more than 60 of the Queen’s own speeches from 1940 to 2021, allowing the monarch, uniquely, to be the narrator of her own story. The last-minute edit also includes the contribution made by the Queen herself little over a week ago, highlighting just how much of a personal project it has been.

The 75-minute programme covers the 96-year-old monarch’s life from birth up to the moment just before her coronation in 1953.

And it reveals a warm, loving and playful family, showing the Queen for the first time in joyously unguarded moments – particularly with her adored late parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, as well as her sister, Princess Margaret. It shows just how close ‘we four’, as the late king used to refer to his family, were.

The film also captures her privately for the first time with her grandfather, King George V – known to the Queen as ‘Grandpa England’ – as well as her uncle, King Edward VIII, and as a very young child in the late 1920s with another uncle, Prince George, the Duke of Kent, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1942.

The family are shown in their most private moments, enjoying picnics at Balmoral, as well as behind the scenes on tours and events.

The documentary reveals a warm, loving and playful family, showing the Queen for the first time in joyously unguarded moments – particularly with her adored late parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, as well as her sister, Princess Margaret. Princess Elizabeth pictured playing quoits on board HMS Vanguard during a royal trip to South Africa in 1947

The documentary reveals a warm, loving and playful family, showing the Queen for the first time in joyously unguarded moments – particularly with her adored late parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, as well as her sister, Princess Margaret. Princess Elizabeth pictured playing quoits on board HMS Vanguard during a royal trip to South Africa in 1947

In the shades: The Queen Mother takes her glasses off for the camera on HMS Vanguard in 1947

Princess Elizabeth joking around with a pair of sunglasses on board HMS Vanguard in 1947

In the shades: The Queen Mother, left, takes her glasses off for the camera on HMS Vanguard in 1947, and, right, Princess Elizabeth joking around with a pair

In one sequence the then-Princess Elizabeth is shown writing in her journal and stroking one of her beloved corgis in Scotland in the late 1930s, before paddling with her sister, carefree and giggling, in Loch Muick.

During her first tour abroad with her family to South Africa when she was 20, the unparalleled joy on King George VI’s face as he poses between his two adored daughters on board the Royal Navy battleship HMS Vanguard is simply a delight to see. The Queen Mother is also in her element, lounging in a deckchair and taking her sunglasses off jokily for the cameras, while an off-duty King pulls a silly face and plays quoits with his children.

There are also glimpses of Prince Charles and Princess Anne as chubby-cheeked babies, playing with their toes and toddling in the royal gardens. And Philip features heavily, rowing the Queen in a boat on their honeymoon, waterskiing and playing with their children and the family dogs.

The film has been made with the help of the Royal Collection and the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archive, which has been helping to preserve and digitally restore the home-movie collection, resulting in one of the most intimate portraits ever seen of our most enigmatic of monarchs ahead of the Platinum Jubilee. 

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen will be shown on BBC1 this Sunday at 7.45pm.

Pensive: With a corgi by her side, Elizabeth makes notes in her journal at Loch Muick in the 1930s. Margaret is sitting behind

Pensive: With a corgi by her side, Elizabeth makes notes in her journal at Loch Muick in the 1930s. Margaret is sitting behind

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