The Queen has opened up about intimate, previously unseen footage of her family, saying that it might leave the younger generation "surprised that you too were young once."
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Her Majesty recorded an introduction to a unique and poignant documentary about her life, which shows "the fun behind the formality", using footage taken from more than 400 reels of home movies from her private archive. Speaking from Windsor a fortnight ahead of her Platinum Jubilee weekend, she says: "Cameras have always been a part of our lives. 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.
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Speaking over footage of herself as a child with her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she says: "Like many families, my parents wanted to keep a record of our precious moments together."
Then as the screen shows images of her with her own husband Prince Philip and their children, she adds: "And when it was our turn with our own family, we did the same. I always enjoyed capturing family moments.
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"Private photos can often show the fun behind the formality. 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."
The 75-minute BBC programme, Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, shows her from the age of just a few months old in 1926, up to the time of her 1953 Coronation and captures the affectionate and loving family life she enjoyed with her parents and Princess Margaret, as well as her own family life with Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. It uses the Queen's own voice, taken from more than 60 of her speeches, to tell her story.
The film shows unseen footage from the Queen's youth
Wartime footage showing her parents standing among the debris of bombed areas of the Palace runs alongside previously private letter from the young Princess to her "darling Granny" Queen Mary, in which she says that she and Margaret have been knitting blankets, jumpers and stockings for evacuees. In a later letter, she adds: “We have all night air raid warnings every night and the guns go occasionally and they make a very big noise.
"Darling Granny, poor old Buckingham Palace looks very sad, with no windows, bits here and there gone completely. The news of the war has been very bad lately, but we will never give in. Your very loving granddaughter, Lilibet."
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In earlier footage, a young Princess Elizabeth is seen with her toddler sister Princess Margaret in the garden of their first home, 145 Piccadilly, with her father riding a children’s tricycle, and the Queen Mother plays up for the camera, pulling faces.
There is footage of the Queen’s uncle, later King Edward VIII, playing bagpipes and larking about with his young nieces and brother at Balmoral.
And there are plenty of scenes of the royals having fun – with the young Princesses doing the Highland fling in kilts and dancing together in matching blue spotted dresses.
The monarch said the photos might leave some viewers "surprised"
Clare Popplewell, Creative Director, BBC Studios Productions, said: "It reveals a warm, loving, playful family, particularly The Queen herself as we see her unguardedly interact not only with her parents and sister, but also with Prince Philip and their own children.
"It showcases a lovely informality to their lives – so the picnics, the behind-the-scenes moments on tours and the family events, which the public have never seen before."
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The film also shows the young Prince Philip at Balmoral after his engagement to Princess Elizabeth, but before it had been announced to the world.
Clare said: "There’s a wonderful extended montage of Prince Philip – water-skiing, playing chase with a dog, riding the children’s toy vehicles – which, combined with The Queen’s words about him, is incredibly moving."
Both the Queen and Prince Philip are seen doting on their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne, as are their grandparents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The film will feature key moments from her life
A young Prince Charles is seen pushing his baby sister Princess Anne in a pram, treading on a pile of grass cuttings and lifting Prince Philip’s trouser legs to look at his socks, while Princess Anne giggles for the camera.
There is behind the scenes footage of Princess Elizabeth's first trip abroad, to South Africa with her parents and sister, from her first solo visit to Canada with Prince Philip in 1951 and poignantly, footage of wildlife shot by the Princess from Treetops, the Kenyan lodge she was staying at when she became Queen overnight the following year.
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Newsreel footage tells the story of the King’s decline and sad death while his daughter was overseas and her return to the UK as monarch.
The film ends with the Queen posing for official photographs after her Coronation, remaining remarkably composed as her children clamber around nearby.
Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen will debut on BBC ONE and BBC iPlayer on Sunday, May 29th.
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