Royal Family documentary

A 1969 documentary on the Royal Family that was banned from ever being seen again popped up on YouTube recently. Anyone who has watched the series “The Crown” will understand how swiftly this show was swept under the rug. But, decades later it’s back!

The BBC documentary team including Richard Cawston followed the royal family for 18 months as they went about their days – filming all the while.

Queen Elizabeth didn’t want anyone else to see the documentary after it aired. But, after the 110 minute show aired over 50 years ago, it became evident to the royals that it was too invasive into their personal lives. 

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The documentary was like a reality show before they became popular!

BBC Owns Copyright To “The Royal Family” Documentary

Queen Elizabeth felt it “cheapens the royal family.” And, the BBC was the only entity beside Buckingham Palace that had access to it.

The Daily Mail reports that when the fly-on-the-wall documentary appeared on YouTube, it caused a fight between the Palace and the BBC. 

It is reported that researched who want to watch “The Royal Family” at the BBC has to park first and also get permission from Buckingham Palace. 

The royals intensely guarded their private lives before this show hit airwaves. It was part of their mystique. This documentary pulled the curtain back. BBC viewers saw Prince Charles jet skiing shirtless. The Queen even ate from Tupperware. 

Viewers had a front row seat to private conversations the Monarch had with her children and the rest of her family.

Prior to this, Queen Elizabeth was seen as a stoic figure. This brought out her human side. But, it was apparently too much for the privately guarded royals. It was too much access, especially for the era.

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While sitting around a table with Prince Philip, Princess Anne, and Prince Charles, the Queen even called an American Ambassador a “gorilla” to the chuckles of her family. 

“The Crown”

The timing of this release is interesting given how the documentary was portrayed in season three of “The Crown.” Viewers of the Netflix series are led to believe the BBC documentary was a failure and highly criticized when that was not the case at all. 

“Apparently 400 million people saw it in 130 different countries. The public loved it. So it remains a unique example of how vast the interest in a fly on the wall documentary on royal life can be, but also a reminder that, when you are royal, it can be wise to keep the cameras at a distance,” royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told The Daily Mail. “I thought it was fascinating and showing it would have been a welcome antidote to some of the manipulative and distorted fiction Peter Morgan has invented in The Crown.

The full length documentary did not last long on YouTube because it was quickly pulled for copyright reasons. Some shorter clips remain, including the one below that contains some of the memorable parts of “The Royal Family.” Even the Queen’s conversation about the American gorilla is in there. 


While the full documentary wasn’t online for long, it is expected that it will continue popping up. People had enough time to download it. Indeed, other sections of the show are already searchable on social media. 

Part Five of “The Royal Family” is on Instagram.

Princess Margaret and the Queen Mum are among those featured. The Queen is even seen driving a very young Prince Edward. And of course, there are the royal dogs!

This video can be seen in the Instagram post below. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amsa Arb (@amsa.arb)

There’s still a fascination today with the Royal Family even though many of them are more visible on social media. There’s still a certain mystique about them and many of us love to take a peek into their lives. 

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