Before Netflix series The Crown enraptured the viewers worldwide with its candid portrayal of the British Royal family, there was a 1969 BBC documentary titled Royal Family that was viewed by millions around the world. For some reason, the documentary was taken down at Queen Elizabeth’s request however, it made a brief comeback this week on YouTube.
It is not known how the documentary was unearthed and posted on YouTube but on Thursday it was taken down after a copyright request was made. The Royal Family documentary was highly uncommon in its nature as it was the first time that the public had access to the daily mundane activities of members of the Windsor family. There are clippings of Queen Elizabeth and husband Prince Philip sitting with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne as they dined. Another instance showed how Queen Elizabeth is awakened every morning by the sound of bagpipes, a tradition that continues to this day wherever she stays.
It is speculated that there are multiple reasons why the documentary was taken off air. The uniquely intimate portrayal of the royal family made some members uncomfortable. According to CNN, years later Princess Anne told PA Media news agency that she never liked the idea of the Royal Family film and always thought it was a “rotten idea". She further mentioned that the attention that had been brought on her ever since she was a child, she just did not want any more of it. Princess Anne mentioned that greater access was the last thing she needed.
Another reason why the 110-minute documentary might have been taken down was how Queen Elizabeth reportedly compared the US ambassador to a gorilla. Quoting PA Media news agency, CNN reports that the British monarch said in the documentary, "There was a gorilla. I had the most terrible trouble ... he had short body, long arms". The documentary also shows the visit of the then US President Richard Nixon to the British royal family who tells Prince Charles and Princess Anne that his daughters keenly follow their progress through news reports.
Those who have watched Netflix series The Crown may remember that in episode 4 of its third season there is a dramatized version of the real-life 1969 BBC documentary. Robert Lacey, the historical consultant on The Crown, said in the ABC special The Story of the Royals in 2018 that the British monarch thought if they did something like that too often, they would cheapen themselves letting the mystery around their lives dry out.