Queen Elizabeth II sees films of her as young mother at British Film Institute

08:36 26 October 2012

Queen Elizabeth II looks at an old restored film on a computer screen, during a visit to the BFI (British Film Institute) on the Southbank in London. Photo credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II looks at an old restored film on a computer screen, during a visit to the BFI (British Film Institute) on the Southbank in London. Photo credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The Queen’s home movies showing her as a young mother were screened for her as it was announced that the films and others are to be digitised for posterity.

Moving images of the Prince of Wales as a baby being played with by his grandparents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and footage of him as a small boy learning to ride were featured during the Queen’s visit to the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank in central London.

In the colour film shot in 1949 by Charles’s proud father, the Duke of Edinburgh, the royal baby is held by Queen Elizabeth and in another scene the King gently flicks his right ear to get his attention.

The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, is also seen in the footage before a clip from 1952 was played showing young Charles learning to ride on a white pony with the Princess Royal as a toddler walking into shot.

BFI chairman Greg Dyke hosted the Queen’s visit and, speaking about the royal home movies, said: “It was moving, it was no different from looking at pictures of your own kids.

“We’ve got the whole collection - we look after it for the Royal Family - some of which has never been seen, they are very personal films.

“A lot of it was shot by the Duke of Edinburgh with a movie camera in the early ‘50s and in the next year or so we will be digitising it.

“I think she was very interested to see this film of her children, of her life as a young mother. I think she seemed to enjoy it.”

The BFI will be working with the BBC to digitise the footage it has looked after for the Royal Collection since the late 1960s. It includes newsreels and private family films which date back more than 90 years to the 1920s.

Longstanding BFI supporter Jonathan Ross introduced the royal clips, including the first film to feature a British monarch - Queen Victoria in a carriage at Balmoral with Tsar Alexander II also in the shot from 1896.

A montage of scenes from well-known British films was also played for the Queen, from Peter O’Toole in David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia to Barbara Windsor’s bra flying off in Carry On Camping.

Ross met the Queen briefly during her visit and said afterwards that he had mentioned her home movie.

“I asked her did she remember it being filmed and she said ‘No, not at all’.

“I doubt it wasn’t important to her, she’s spent her whole life being filmed. I think she rarely goes out without seeing a camera.”

During the visit, the Queen was given a tour of the BFI Southbank and learned about a new computer archive system for visitors to look up films and newsreels.

She was also shown documents from the institution’s extensive library - including scripts and set designs from A Matter Of Life And Death, the classic movie by Powell and Pressburger.

When the Quenn met a group of children making a stop animation film about her Diamond Jubilee year, she was reminded of how her June River Pageant was deluged with rain.

As she watched 10-year-old Tabby Kent add raindrops to a scene of cut-out boats on the River Thames, the Queen, who travelled on the Royal Barge with members of her family, said: “We didn’t notice the raindrops - it was just wet.”

The visit also marked the 60th anniversary of the BFI’s first permanent cinema on London’s South Bank.

Earlier in the day, the Queen opened the nearby Jubilee Gardens created on the site of the former Festival of Britain.

The open space, in the shadow of the London Eye, has undergone a £5 million transformation, with flowerbeds planted, new grass laid and granite paths completed.

Ted Inman, chairman of the Jubilee Gardens Trust, which manages the open space, said: “Originally it was the Festival of Britain site, then a car park and was also the 1977 Jubilee Gardens.”

He described how it fell from use and ended up as a flat featureless space, but was now a fitting tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“It’s now an open space worthy of where it is, it’s so busy now and well-used.

“We opened at the end of May in time for the River Pageant and there were about 15,000 people here watching the procession.”

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