The tweet racked up more than 870,000 likes, while a drawing of the Queen holding hands with Paddington was all over social media as people reacted to the news.
A cartoon bear from deepest, darkest Peru might seem like a strange figure to focus on as the nation begins 10 days of mourning, but that little bear played a major role in the last year of the Queen’s life.
The reason why the short message posted on Thursday struck such a chord is, of course, because of the widely celebrated sketch from the Platinum Jubilee celebrations back in June.
The bear appeared in a heartwarming clip – which also included actor Simon Farnaby in character as Barry the Security Guard – which saw Paddington enjoy a chaotic lunch of marmalade sandwiches and tea with Her Majesty in Buckingham Palace.
Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw, managed to overshadow the array of stars performing at the palace in just a few short minutes with the inspired vignette, which was packed with British quirks and sensibilities.
Fans of the Paddington films, of course, weren’t surprised by the impact it had. The movies’ themes of human kindness, generosity and politeness made them a perfect fit for the jubilee celebrations.
More importantly, the footage showed us a side to the Queen – a figure most of us were used to seeing from afar, on official duties – which we’d rarely been privy to.
In fact, the last time the nation had been shown a more playful side of Queen Elizabeth II was way back in 2012 when she appeared alongside Daniel Craig in a video for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
Frank Cottrell Boyce co-wrote both of those moments, and reflected on the Paddington clip in an interview with BBC News on Friday – even saying that he imagined the Queen would have made a cracking actor in another life.
“She’s absolutely glowing in that moment,” he said of her turn in the Paddington sketch. “And you’ve got to remember that that’s real acting that’s going on there. Paddington isn’t really in the room. She’s acting with an eye-line and with someone pretending to be Paddington. That’s proper acting going on. But I also think it’s true happiness.”
Everyone will have different memories of Queen Elizabeth II, and take away different aspects of her life in the coming days, but Paddington helped to perfectly capture one of many happy moments from her 70 year reign.
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