- On season three of Netflix‘s “The Crown,” the royal family decides to make a documentary about their lives at Buckingham Palace.
- Worried about their public image, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, and other members of the royal family allow filmmakers to follow them for several months for the project.
- Although some aspects of the filmmaking are fictionalized for the show, the documentary, called “Royal Family,” did exist in real life.
- It received mixed reviews upon its release, and Queen Elizabeth was apparently so distraught at the way it portrayed her family that she effectively banned it from being broadcast after 1972.
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On season three of Netflix’s “The Crown,” the royals decide to make a documentary about their family – a last-ditch move to rehabilitate their public image, since most people thought them to be stuffy and out of touch. That documentary was real and Queen Elizabeth probably wishes it weren’t.
While “The Crown” takes some liberties in portraying the making of the film, the show accurately portrays the reactions of the royals after it aired, and even replicates some famous scenes from the documentary.
Unfortunately for Queen Elizabeth and her family, the documentary received mixed reviews upon its release – and the Queen was apparently so distraught at the way it portrayed her family that she effectively banned it from being shown after 1972.
Here’s everything you need to know about “Royal Family.”
It was reportedly the idea of the Queen’s press secretary, William Heseltine, as a means of showing the royal family as ‘real people.’
The documentary was made in the late 1960s, a time when England, along with the rest of the world, was undergoing radical political and social changes. Many felt that the royal family, with their traditions and formalities, were stuffy, outdated, and hard to relate to -something filmmakers, along with royals, hoped to change with the release of the documentary.
Documentary filmmakers followed the royal family for 18 months, capturing scenes of Prince Philip grilling sausages at Balmoral and the Queen making small talk with President Nixon.
The film began shooting on June 8, 1968, at the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony (a tradition in which British armies perform exercises and ceremonies for a large audience). In addition to showing Prince Philip and Princess Anne barbecuing at Balmoral, the documentary also featured scenes of the Prince painting, as well as the Queen and Prince Charles making salad dressing (it was “too oily,” according to the Queen).
And one of the more interesting scenes of the documentary saw the Queen make small talk with President Richard Nixon, who visited Buckingham Palace in 1969. “World problems are so complex, aren’t they?” Queen Elizabeth famously remarked to the president.
In total, there were 75 days of shooting at over 170 locations across Britain, and the final cut of the documentary amounted to about two hours. Considering the immense amount of footage captured and the total run time, it’s safe to say there are plenty of scenes that didn’t make the cut – but will likely never be seen by audiences.
“The Crown” meticulously recreates some of these scenes for their version of “Royal Family,” including the barbecue at Balmoral, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s awkward meeting with Nixon.
‘Royal Family’ was a ratings success, but received mixed critical reviews.
Seventy-five per cent of the British general public tuned in to watch the documentary when it premiered on June 21, 1969. Even though it attracted a massive viewership, critical reviews were mixed.
Some felt that it was a refreshing look at the lives of the royal family, and made them seem more like real people instead of stuffy monarchs. However, others felt that the “magic” of the royals was compromised, after seeing them do ordinary things like cook sausages and use Tupperware.
The Queen was apparently so distraught over the documentary, she effectively banned it from being shown.
Queen Elizabeth apparently enjoyed the final cut of the film. But in 1970,Buckingham Palace relegated the film to the royal archives, never to be seen again without the permission of the Queen. This effectively banned the documentary from being shown, and many felt it was a result of the Queen being dissatisfied with the documentary, perhaps as a result of the film’s more vocal critics.
While it’s essentially impossible to watch “Royal Family” in its entirety, a few clips remain online, such as the Queen’s interaction with President Nixon.