Royal movies will be digitised – but not for YouTube’s benefit

26 October 2012

The Times

The Royal Family’s home movies, dating back to the 1920s, are to be digitised for the British Film Institute’s archive. However, access to most footage will remain private, preventing the 16mm films and video — which may well include “The World’s Funniest Corgi Moments” — from ending up on YouTube.

The plans were announced as the Queen visited the National Film Theatre in Central London yesterday, marking both her own Jubilee and the 60th anniversary of the NFT. The BFI used the occasion to show unusual archive film of the Queen, shot in 3-D in June 1952 after her Coronation. The 20-minute film Royal Review comes with pink titles and makes full use of early 3-D technology with an opening shot of three royal trumpeters (also in pink and red).

A fresh-faced Elizabeth II appears in a brown silk coat cinched at the waist, with a fascinator made from bright blue and green feathers, and greets amusingly nervous royal boatmen on the Thames. In Edinburgh the Queen marches out on parade as Colonel in Chief, a tiny woman in a white dress among giant 3-D soldiers in kilts. Yesterday the Queen was still marching on, in a purple velvet hat and coat, with gold buttons, taking a tour of the BFI Reuben Library and the Mediatheque before settling into the cinema with the crowd.

She watched a clip reel from great British films, featuring the occasional bare bottom. The cuts included Psycho, The Life of Brian, Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights and Richard Ayoade’sSubmarine. The final clip was, appropriately, from The King’s Speech.

Jonathan Ross, the compere, introduced the short films, noting his disappointment that the new James Bond movie Skyfall “was missing a cameo from the guest artiste who stole the show with Daniel Craig at the Olympics”, a reference to the royal parachuting in the opening ceremony.

In a film about the restoration and the BFI archive, the first footage of a British royal appeared. Scenes at Balmoral (1896) shows Queen Victoria in a horse-drawn carriage with her prized white Pomeranian dog Turi on her knee. In the background, other dogs are misbehaving around a group of guests, who include Tsar Nicholas II.

The Queen also had a chance to watch some of her own home movies on the big screen, including Prince Charles as a baby (with a Hoxton Fin-style hairdo) who she eventually passes off with some relief into the arms the Queen Mother. Later, a pre-school prince appears, in a red deerstalker and matching coat, along with Princess Anne. He proudly rides a small, hairy pony, looking back for encouragement at the camera. In a reaction shot, the Queen smiles at the sight, and she smiled again from her cinema seat yesterday