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King Charles pictured flying solo as palace gives rare access to royal documentary

The 1969 documentary, Royal Family, has not been aired in its entirety since

Prince Charles flying plane solo, 1969
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
25 April 2023
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Royal fans will finally get to see moments from a rare documentary that was later banned by the late Queen Elizabeth II, ahead of King Charles's coronation.

A new BBC documentary will feature the royal family in previously unseen personal moments and footage of the then-Prince Charles flying solo.

Charles R: The Making of a Monarch will offer audiences a chance to view unseen and rarely seen footage of Charles, telling his more than 70-year story as heir to the throne, through his own words.

Buckingham Palace has granted the BBC exclusive access to unseen footage of Charles from the 1969 documentary, Royal Family.

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Prince Charles in Malta, 1969© BBC
Charles in Malta

The footage shows the royal family enjoying a bonfire at Sandringham and the future King on a private visit to Malta in 1968.

There are also unseen clips of Charles on royal engagements, including a trip to the Royal Mint with his parents, and a visit to a North Sea oil platform.

Prince Charles at The Royal Mint, 1969© BBC
Prince Charles at The Royal Mint
Charles and the Queen at the Royal Mint, 1969© BBC
Charles and the Queen at the Royal Mint

Viewers will hear the King discuss his childhood, including his memories of the late Queen's coronation, as well as his school days, adolescence, and investiture as Prince of Wales.

Five never before seen images from the programme were released on Tuesday including shots of the then Prince flying a plane solo, a visit to the Royal Mint with the Queen, a trip to Malta when he was young, and a shot of the Prince decorating a Christmas tree at Windsor.

The film aired for the first time on 21 June 1969 in black and white on the government-owned BBC, and then a week later on ITV in colour. Dubbed a triumph, the documentary was well received by the public and reached a total of 40 million worldwide, including 68 per cent of the adult British public.

Prince Charles decorates the Christmas tree at Windsor, 1969© BBC
Prince Charles decorates the Christmas tree at Windsor

 However, Her Majesty is reported to have regretted the decision to allow the cameras into her home, and Sir David Attenborough, then a BBC controller, is said to have told the filmmaker that the film risked "killing the monarchy". And by 1970, the film was locked away in royal archives, never to be seen in its entirety again.

Simon Young, the BBC’s head of history said: "It’s a real privilege to be trusted with such rare, unseen archive material to create a new and distinctive portrait of someone so famous and photographed.

"As their majesties' coronation approaches, this film will give audiences a fresh insight into his remarkable life."

Charles R: The Making of a Monarch will debut on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 30 April.

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