CharlesR: The Making of a Monarch
BBC1 and iPlayer
At the hemline of His Majesty’s ermine robe, a tantalizing flash of regal ankles – King Charles flirts with us.
This hour-long compilation of rarely seen clips, Charles R: The Making Of A Monarch (BBC1), features snippets and out-takes from the legendary documentary entitled Royal Family, which has not been seen on television since its premiere and only aired in 1969.
Disturbed by his frankness, the late Queen ordered the film sent to the vault.
The King’s willingness to release short excerpts, including footage cut from the original and never before seen, suggests that he appreciates its value as a unique historical record.
While the palace doesn’t say how many hours are left, each clip has only been seen once – a sure sign that the producers were spoiled for choice
But fans of The Crown on Netflix have enjoyed scenes recreated from this experimental family portrait, in which Elizabeth and Philip watched television together with their four children, ages five to 20, sharing meals outside and engaging in other ordinary activities.
The King’s willingness to release short excerpts, including footage cut from the original and never before seen, suggests that he appreciates its value as a unique historical record and does not feel forever bound by the decisions of his mother.
But instead of approving the broadcasting of whole chunks of footage, the palace teases us with glimpses.
One clip saw Charles, the Queen and Princess Anne decorating a Christmas tree, probably filmed by the Duke of Edinburgh, an avid amateur cinematographer.
‘I prefer to think of us as a family rather than a company,’ says a young Charles in the voice-over.
“I tend to think of my family as very special people.” Anne then scratches a pine branch with her hand and exclaims ‘Ouch!’ and looks angrily at her brother.
In another shot, the family builds a bonfire in the woods, while Edward and Andrew throw branches into the fire, watched by a pair of corgis from a wary distance.
The size of the back catalog of Windsor home videos became apparent last year during the Queen’s (Toddler King) Platinum Anniversary
Most moving were his memories of the coronation 70 years ago. The Queen Mother, standing next to him in the abbey, whispered, “Honey, you must try to remember this.”
HRH Prince Charles aboard HMS Britannia as a child. The size of the back catalog of Windsor home movies became apparent last year during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Perhaps the most revealing and irreverent cut-out shows US President Richard Nixon, on his first official visit to Britain, laughing and joking with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as he tours Buckingham Palace.
Meeting Charles, the gullible Nixon pumps his hand and booms, “I just told Her Majesty, I saw you on television.”
‘Real? It’s mutual,’ an aggrieved Charles mutters.
Ann intervenes. “I’m sure you haven’t seen me on television,” she explains. Nixon gapes at her, stunned.
The extent of Windsor’s home video back catalog became evident last year during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, when home videos of Princess Elizabeth as a girl with her own parents aired for the first time.
While the palace doesn’t say how many hours are left, each clip was only seen once – a sure sign that the producers were spoiled for choice.
Since most of us, when filming our families, just let the movie run, I suspect there’s a lot more to discover in the raw footage.
We saw Prince Philip teach Charles how to throw a fly rod, and Charles did the same with Prince Harry.
There were pictures of him when, as the youthful Prince of Wales, he was the world’s most eligible bachelor and an unlikely action hero: water skiing, helicopter rides and horse riding in the Australian bush.
There were pictures of him when, as the youthful Prince of Wales, he was the world’s most eligible bachelor (with his mother in 1968)
The King escorts a Shetland pony behind his younger sister, the Princess Royal. I suspect there is much more to discover in the raw footage
A great find from the news archives was that he donned an inflatable rubber diving suit to dive into an ice hole during a polar expedition
Charles, in full military mode, hits a tune for grandfather King George VI before his death in 1952
He protested that he was “not very good at acting monkey.”
But that’s only half the story: the king always loved to laugh, possibly to divert attention from his natural shyness.
A great find from the news archives was that he donned an inflatable rubber diving suit to dive into an ice hole during a polar expedition.
When he emerged, he released the air by twisting the valves over his nipples and pretended to collapse as the dry suit deflated.
Those who know him say that, like his mother, the king has a strong sense of humor… and like her, he enjoyed am-dram in his youth. Undoubtedly, talent for achievement, though often hidden, is an essential element in the success of the family.
Reactions to his character from others were rare, but Queen Camilla did offer one insight: “He’s quite impatient, as I think anyone who works for him will tell you, but that’s how he gets things done.”
Otherwise, the narration came almost entirely from Charles himself – drawn from over 50 years of interviews, rather than being recorded for this documentary.
The king is said by those who know him to have a strong sense of humour… and like them, he enjoyed am-dram in his youth
Reactions to his character from others have been rare, but Queen Camilla did offer one insight: ‘He’s quite impatient’
He is frustrated that for decades no one took his views on ecology and climate change seriously (1969 interview)
He is also self-critical enough to recognize that part of the problem was his own shyness, even when he knew he was right (learning to fly)
The difficulty of “getting things done” is one of his constant themes. He is frustrated that for decades no one has taken his views on ecology and climate change seriously, although he has been proven not only correct, but also visionary.
“In those early days,” he complained, “I was considered anti-science and a dreamer.”
But he’s also self-critical enough to admit that part of the problem was his own shyness, even though he knew he was right: “I’m not a very confident person.”
Most moving were his memories of the coronation 70 years ago. The Queen Mother, standing beside him in the abbey, whispered, “Honey, you must remember this.”
But what has stuck with him most clearly was how the Queen practiced wearing the regalia, getting used to its weight: ‘I remember my mother coming up when we were bathing, wearing the crown. It’s incredibly heavy.’
It is a burden that, as this unusual biography showed, he has spent his life preparing to bear.