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what we learned about our monarch from behind the scenes footage




Arguably the most intimate filmed glimpse of the monarch was in Elizabeth R: A Year in the Queen’s Life, a 1992 BBC documentary. You see a relaxed Queen dancing at the Ghillies Ball in Balmoral, happily doing reels Scottish women with Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne. Despite her cheerful demeanor, she lives up to the standards, wearing her tiara with absolute composure as she circles the dance floor.

Also in this documentary, you see her affection for her grandchildren, as she takes Prince William, Zara Phillips and Princess Beatrice, then a little girl, on a tour of the Balmoral Estate.

The Queen gave a rare glimpse into her existence in this documentary, saying: If you live this kind of life, you live a lot by tradition and continuity.

She described the decoration of a valiant soldier who said he hadn’t been brave, adding, Osh, it was just training. The Queen said the same applies to her: I have a feeling that in the end, probably, training is the answer to a lot of things. You can do a lot if you are properly trained.

This training also means that the queen has very good theatrical timing.

She delivers a replica very well, says Hugo Vickers, biographer of Queen Mary and the Queen Mother. She enjoys attracting people by asking questions to which she already knows the answers. Her favorite question is Are you sure?

Well, you better be. You could very well be caught off guard otherwise.

The Queen also tells some really great stories, although her sense of humor isn’t seen onscreen often enough. Hugo Vickers tells two stories about him.

They may be apocryphal, he says, but they have a character. When a mobile phone goes off, she likes to say, you better answer that it might be someone important.

In Sandringham, an American tourist once met her in a headscarf with her detective. Have you ever met the queen? He asked.

I haven’t, she said, pointing to the detective. But he did. “

How encouraging that his cheerful and ironic approach to life is still going strong today. Happy 95th Birthday, Your Majesty!

The Queen Unseen is on ITV1 at 9 p.m.

Harry Mount is the author of How England Made English (Penguin)

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