TREVOR McDONALD’S QUEEN AND COUNTRY
She is Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch, and in 2012 all eyes are on Queen Elizabeth II as the country marks her Diamond Jubilee. In this fascinating series, Sir Trevor McDonald looks at the traditions and institutions surrounding the monarchy, from Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace through The Queen’s royal visits and some of the greatest historic royal palaces.
London, Royal City
London is indisputably the capital of Britain’s royal life. Here the young Princess Elizabeth grew up before the Second World War, and she and her sister Margaret mingled incognito with the joyous crowds on VE Day. Today, London remains the centre of a working monarchy. Trevor McDonald reports on the tradition of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and visits Horseguards to meet the man who is in charge of the troops who guard The Queen.
The Queen’s year is driven by her diary, and has been since her accession in 1952. In this programme, we see her in Scotland at the Braemar Gathering (she has been to it seventy times), and we follow her on a visit to Liverpool, the sort of regional trip that happens every week but attracts little publicity. We also discover unique 3D footage of a young Queen, shot in 1953, which is held by the British Film Institute.
The Queen’s Possessions
The Queen has some surprising possessions, among them Westminster Abbey and the Chapels Royal. These are ‘peculiars of the crown’, as are the Channel Islands where they still call Her Majesty the ‘Duke of Normandy’ to remind outsiders that they were with William the Conqueror on the winning side at the Battle of Hastings. The Queen also owns the Tower of London, part of a collection of Historic Royal Palaces, and also the Royal Collection, to which she has added nearly 150 portraits over the past six decades.
The Queen is head of the sixteen realms which make up the Commonwealth. In Perth, Western Australia, we observe The Queen on tour before opening the Heads of Government Meeting. This is a meeting which is especially important for the monarchy; the Commonwealth countries are being asked to change the rules of succession so that a first-born girl might inherit the crown. If it’s approved, it will be the single biggest change to the monarchy for centuries. At the age of 85 The Queen remains undaunted by long-haul travel, as this programme shows.