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A BBC documentary featuring never-before-seen footage of the Queen taken from her personal archive will include clips of the monarch beaming at her engagement ring – months before the announcement was made public.
The Queen granted the BBC unprecedented access to hundreds of homemade recordings shot by her, her parents and the Duke of Edinburgh in honour of her upcoming Platinum Jubilee.
The home movies, which had been held privately by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute (BFI), capture the Queen’s life from being pushed in a pram by her mother to her coronation in 1953.
A 20-year-old Princess Elizabeth enjoying a visit to South Africa in 1947 from the forthcoming BBC documentary Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen (BBC/PA)
The 75-minute documentary, titled Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, captures the first extended visit of Prince Philip to Balmoral in 1946 while the couple’s engagement was still not public.
It depicts a beaming Princess Elizabeth showing the camera her engagement ring.
The Queen was a young princess when she first met naval cadet Prince Philip of Greece in 1939, during a visit to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth where he was studying.
Philip, who was just 18, was introduced to 13-year-old Elizabeth at the house of the captain of the college.
The pair began writing to each other and Philip was invited to spend the Christmas of 1943 with the royal family at Windsor.
Princess Margaret; King George VI and Princess Elizabeth (BBC/PA)
It has previously been suggested the couple became unofficially engaged in the summer of 1946 while they were staying at Balmoral but the official announcement was delayed until after Princess Elizabeth reached the age of 21 and returned from a royal tour of South Africa the following year.
The couple wed in November 1947 and were married for 73 years before the Duke of Edinburgh died last April, just a few months before his 100th birthday.
The BBC documentary will depict rare moments including footage of Princess Elizabeth with her uncle Prince George The Duke of Kent, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1942 while on active service, and the King’s last visit to Balmoral in 1951.
It will also show the Queen as a young mother with the King and Queen fond grandparents to Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
BBC Studios reviewed more than 400 reels of film, discovering lost newsreel and behind the scenes recordings of state events, believed to have been privately commissioned by the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday (Steve Parsons/PA)PA Archive/PA Images - Steve Parsons
Filmmakers listened to more than three hundred of the Queen’s speeches, spanning over eight decades, to make the film which will be narrated by the Queen’s own voice and words alongside newsreel audio.
Simon Young, the BBC’s commissioning editor for history, said: “We are honoured that the Queen has entrusted the BBC with such unprecedented access to her personal film collection.
“This documentary is an extraordinary glimpse into a deeply personal side of the royal family that is rarely seen, and it’s wonderful to be able to share it with the nation as we mark her Platinum Jubilee.”
Claire Popplewell, creative director for BBC Studios Productions, said: “As programme-makers who have previously worked closely with the Royal Household on ceremonial and celebratory broadcast events and programmes, the production team were under no illusion quite how special having access to this very personal archive was.
“Being able to draw upon the self-recorded history of a young Princess Elizabeth and her wider family – and allowing the Queen to tell us her own story – is the very heart of this film.”
Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on May 29.
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