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Why Elizabeth II banned a 1969 documentary about the royal family
Why Elizabeth II banned a 1969 documentary about the royal family
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In the late 1960s, the release of the film about the royal family of Great Britain became a real sensation. For a year and a half, a film crew lived side by side with Queen Elizabeth and her family, which shot frame by frame everything that happened in the palace and beyond. In 1969, the film was released and was a truly incredible success, but three years later, by the decree of Her Majesty, the film Royal Family was on the shelf, where it is still located.

How it was

The royal family during the filming of the film

In the late 1960s, when the hippie movement came into fashion, and with it freedom in all respects was actively promoted, the royal family was rapidly losing its popularity and seemed something outdated and archaic, the young press secretary of Elizabeth II suggested making a film about to the family of Elizabeth II. According to William Heseltine, it was possible to increase the popularity of the monarchy in Great Britain only by bringing the queen and her family closer to ordinary Englishmen. The subjects were supposed to see an ordinary family, where parents take care of children, take walks and have a lot in common with thousands of British families.

The Royal Family

Despite the fact that many members of the royal family and employees of Buckingham Palace did not support this idea, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband saw a certain amount of common sense in the filming of the film. At the insistence of Prince Philip, all material had to be reviewed by a special committee, which would include himself and representatives of the BBC television company.

It was directed by the head of the Air Force documentary department and former officer Richard Causton. Filming for Royal Family continued for 18 months. All this time, the cameras relentlessly followed the members of the royal family. Filmed informal family meetings and official visits, children classes and walks in the park.

The Royal Family

Even those who objected to filming had to submit to the royal will. Princess Anne, for example, considered the idea very unsuccessful, and Prince Philip, who supported the queen in her decision, hated it when he himself was filmed.

There was a lot of material, and all the members of the film crew on the day the film was presented to the Queen were desperately worried, not knowing what Elizabeth II's reaction might be. Before the film was shown to the queen, Prince Philip had already seen it and approved by the committee, but the final word, of course, remained with Elizabeth herself. And after watching, she gave her consent to be shown on television.

Success and ban

A still from the movie Royal Family

On June 21, 1969, the film Royal Family was first shown in black and white on the state television BBC, and a week later viewers of the commercial station ITV were able to see it in color. The picture was acquired by many foreign companies, and the interest in it was really overwhelming. For the first time, ordinary people could see the monarchs. According to various sources, the film was watched by 30 to 50 million people, while there were practically no critical comments on it. The author of the idea, William Heseltine, later recalled that among the disaffected there were only a couple of television critics and as many prim English lords.

A still from the movie Royal Family

For the first time, viewers were able to observe the royal family in an informal setting and see how Prince Philip prepares a barbecue for his wife and children in Balmoral, how the queen and her son cut a salad, and they also use Tupperware brand products in everyday life.

The footage of Queen Elizabeth taking her son Edward to a pastry shop to comfort him with sweets after the accidental injury sustained by a broken string of Charles' cello touched the hearts of the audience. Everyone especially liked the moment when the queen paid in cash like an ordinary citizen.

A still from the movie Royal Family

The footage was shown of Prince Charles skiing, Prince Philip piloting an airplane, and driving the Queen herself. The memories of Prince Philip about the late King George VI, in particular, about the outbursts of anger of Elizabeth II's father, caused an ambiguous reaction. Many felt that such very personal items should not be included in the film for a wider public demonstration.

A still from the movie Royal Family

Discussions of the picture and discussions around it did not stop. People were surprised, praised, criticized. And from now on, even more close attention was riveted to the members of the royal family. Ordinary citizens, as if together with members of the film crew, were able to attend family evenings, listen to the queen's jokes and observe the behavior of her children. On the one hand, the family of Elizabeth II was demystified by these films, and on the other hand, it was too simplified, turning their life into a kind of reality show.

In 1972, the film was removed from the screening, and all footage was placed in the Royal Archives. Since then, no one has been able to watch the Royal Family without the highest permission. They say that the queen, on reflection, found the picture too personal. Historian Robert Lacey believes that the royal prohibition is understandable, because the "Royal Family" cheapens and deprives BCS of all magic.

The Royal Family

Despite the fact that no one has given permission to show the Royal Family over the past half century, in January 2021 the documentary suddenly appeared on YouTube, but it did not stay there for long. The BBC broadcaster demanded that it be removed from the service due to copyright infringement. True, after a short time the film appeared again, but again quickly disappeared. Small excerpts are shown in the film project The Duke at 90, filmed for the anniversary of Prince Philip in 2011. However, the film itself appears on YouTube with enviable regularity.

Unfortunately, on April 9, 2021, the heart of one of the participants in those events, Prince Philip, stopped beating. Elizabeth II and Prince Philip lived together for almost 74 years, went through many crises and trials and appeared in public, demonstrating unchanging unanimity on all issues. The media often called him too harsh and blunt, but what was he really like?

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