A treasure trove of footage of the Queen taken from her personal film archive is to be shown for the first time, including clips of the young princess showing off her engagement ring months before the announcement was made public.
The monarch granted documentary-makers unprecedented access to hundreds of home recordings filmed by her, her parents and the Duke of Edinburgh to mark its 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.
The 75-minute documentary, titled Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, includes the first extended visit of Prince Philip to Balmoral in 1946 while the couple’s engagement was still private.
It features a delighted Princess Elizabeth showing the camera her engagement ring.
The Queen was a young princess when she first met Prince Philip in 1939 during a visit to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where he was a naval cadet.
Philip, who was 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 Christmas 1943 with the Royal Family at Windsor.
It has previously been suggested the couple became unofficially engaged in summer 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 next year.
The couple married in November 1947 and were together for 73 years until the Duke of Edinburgh’s death last April, just a few months before his 100th birthday.
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The BBC documentary will depict rare moments including footage of Princess Elizabeth with her uncle Prince George.
The Duke of Kent, who died in a plane crash in 1942 while on active service, and the King’s last visit to Balmoral in 1951 will also feature.
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.
Filmmakers listened to more than 300 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.
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Simon Young, the BBC’s commissioning editor for history, said: “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 anniversary.”
Claire Popplewell, creative director for BBC Studios Productions, said: “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 movie.”
Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 29 May