All eyes are once again on the Royals this year, especially after the Duke of Edinburgh’s discharge from hospital yesterday – but the documentary, screened exactly half a century ago, went one step further, taking viewer into the Royal household for a glimpse of their day-to-day lives, including decorating a Christmas tree over the festive period. However, the film has never been seen in its entirety since it was first aired in 1969. Adrian Tinniswood said the incident underlined the importance of duty to Her Majesty, and said her commitment was a large part of the reason for enormous worldwide interest in the royals. Nevertheless he said the next generation was facing enormous challenges in an era increasingly dominated by social media – although he insisted Prince Charles would be ready to take on the role of King when called upon.
Mr Tinniswood, author of Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household, was sceptical, told Express.co.uk: “The challenges are much greater these days and I think that’s partly because we want contradictory things.
“We want to think the Royal Family are just like us and we want to think they are not simultaneously.
“Back in 1969, there was a documentary called The Royal Family.
“It showed the Royal Family having breakfast, sitting there watching TV, and the idea was to sort of let people see that the Queen and Philip, Anne and Charles were all just like ordinary people.
“The Queen forbade that ever to be screened again.
It’s never been shown and it never will be
“It’s never been shown and it never will be. It destroyed the mystery.
“I’ve seen it, I saw it first time around and it’s amazing.
“If you look on Youtube there’s a one minute, two minute clip and that’s all there is.
“She realised that too much reality is bad for the monarchy.
“We’ve got to preserve that sense that they are apart from us.”
Mr Tinniswood, who is senior research fellow in history at the University of Buckingham, said the Queen’s devotion to her duty over the course of more than six decades was striking.
He added: “We’ve got to preserve that sense that they are apart from us.”
“The great thing that the Queen has done in her long reign is, she always puts duty first.
Acknowledging the Windsors as the most popular and famous in the world, he said: “There’s a lot of ceremony, there’s a lot of ritual and glitz attached to them.
“But I think a lot of it at the moment, in the last 60-odd years, is because the Queen has played it properly, she’s done the right thing.
“She has maintained that sense of mystery and mystique. She is surrounded in this cocoon of ritual.
“Being a Queen, being a King, is different. If I was born in America, I could aspire to be head of state, I could aspire to be President.
“I was born in Britain, I can’t aspire to be King, that’s not how it works – they are different from us, they are separate.”
As for Prince Charles, Mr Tinniswood said he believed the Prince of Wales would cope “very well” when he eventually becomes Monarch.
He said: “He’s not going to have the longest reign is he, just because of the way things are.
“I think about when Victoria died and the Prince of Wales must have been going on for 60, he had a ten-year reign, he was a perfectly good King and I’m sure Prince Charles will be as well.”
Nevertheless, he emphasised it would come as a massive shock to the nation when the Queen dies, saying: “I was born in 1954.
“I am a new Elizabethan – I’ve never known there was not Queen Elizabeth on the throne and it is going to come as a tremendous shock when we’re not anymore.
“I am a Royalist now. When I started work on my book I was kind of ambivalent, I was not a raving Republican but I wasn’t a particularly flag-waving Royalist.
“By the time I’d finished my book, I had got nothing but respect for the Queen – I admire what she does enormously.”
Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household is published by London-based publishers Jonathan Cape.
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