You can watch the documentary in its entirety on YouTube.
Before, we discuss key points and highlights from the documentary, let's chat about Kate's participation in the programme. Filmed at Kensington Palace wearing her blue tweed Rebecca Taylor suit, the interview offered our first glimpse into Kate's relationship with the Queen, her role as a member of the Royal family, and motherhood.
Whilst many of Kate's segments were shared in the media over the last week, there were several previously unheard quotes covering a variety of areas including balancing motherhood and work:
"Being a mother and new in my job as well, I have no idea how the Queen has managed to do it with four children as well of her own. To manage all those elements of your life, from the family as well as to the work, to the national importance of her role, I think it's extraordinary and also for so long as well".
All the royals interviewed praised HM for her sense of duty, with the Duchess of duty. Although very nervous (and understandably so) Kate spoke quite openly about the Queen and Prince Philip's sense of duty and long marriage, saying, "All the time William and I are so struck by the Queen's sense of duty and commitment and I think to do that by yourself would be a very lonely place to be, but I think to have the support of your husband there by your side on those occasions, and behind closed doors as well, I think is very special." Kate continued: "William and I have got quite a long way to go but it really is fantastic and to see and experience as much as they have together. It's very special".
Noting how people react to the Queen, Kate smiled as she said: "I think she's so so engaging, I think she's got the most fantastic smile, and I think if she smiles and says nothing it gives people such a huge amount of joy and a huge amount of pleasure."
The Duchess was also incredibly impressed by HM's love for simplicity ""I suppose what's really struck me is her love for the simple things in life. You would expect a lot of grandeur and a lot of fuss, but actually what really resonates with me is her love for the simple things, the lack of fuss, and I think that's a special quality to have."
The inside footage from the rarely seen annual Diplomatic Reception was very insightful. Described in the documentary as "the most important event of the year" during which "the Queen and her family will shake hands with the world".
William and Kate joined HM for the event in December for the second time. I know how excited we all were to get a proper look at that beautiful Alexander McQueen icy blue gown - another beautiful collaboration between Kate and Sarah Burton. It's perfect for the occasion and a gorgeous choice with the divine Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara.
A look at the back of the gown.
Speaking about the reception William said: "First you think you're in some sort of fancy dress, it's incredible, it's surreal, a lot of different cultures and languages. My first Diplomatic Reception was a little bit awkward, I may have got two countries muddled up. My grandmother was cool about it." Kate added: "She remains so calm and collected all the time, I think everyone feels they've had some personal time with HM and a real connection."
Speaking of dazzling tiaras and breath-taking gowns there is lovely footage from the state banquet for President Xi of China held last year. There's a lovely look at Kate's red Jenny Packham in its entirety and behind-the-scenes preparations which begin months ahead.
Other quotes from Kate previously released included the following:
On Princess Charlotte: "It’s very special having a new little girl…I feel very, very lucky that George has got a little sister. The Queen was really thrilled that it was a little girl, and I think as soon as we came back here to Kensington she was one of our first visitors."
On what George calls the Queen: "George is only two-and-a-half and he calls her 'Gan-Gan'. She always leaves a little gift or something in their room when we go and stay and that just shows her love for her family."
On the Queen's Guidance: She has been "very generous in not being forceful at all and in any of her views. But I feel she’s been there, a gentle guidance really for me."
On her most memorable engagement: "The most memorable engagement for me was an away-day to Leicester. I went without William, so I was rather apprehensive about that. I think there is a real art to walkabouts. Everyone teases me in the family that I spend far too long chatting. So I think I've still got to learn a little bit more and to pick up a few more tips I suppose. The Queen was very supportive. The fact she took the time to make sure that I was happy and looked after for that particular occasion, which probably in everything that she’s doing is a very small element, it shows just how caring she is really."
On making her granny's chutney for the Queen's Christmas present:
"I can remember being at Sandringham, for the first time, at Christmas. And I was worried what to give the Queen as her Christmas present. I was thinking, 'Gosh, what should I give her?' I thought, 'I'll make her something', which could have gone horribly wrong, but I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney. I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table. I think such a simple gesture went such a long way for me and I've noticed since she's done that on lots of occasions and I think it just shows her thoughtfulness, really, and her care in looking after everybody."
What were the other highlights of the documentary?
Discussing how the Queen coped with her father's death and ascension to throne at just 25 years old, Princess Beatrice described how she exuded "an effortless grace and at that point you really realised who this person is". Prince Charles continued: "When you think how young the Queen was when my grandfather died to be required to take on such an enormous task. It appeared effortless but it probably isn't". Prince Charles also praised his mother's "quiet and shy determination and strong character".
Prince William, who was filmed at the East Anglian Air Base, said: "Growing up, having this figurehead, having this stability above me has been incredible. I have been able to explore, understand, slightly carve my own path. I greatly appreciate and value that protection. A lot of people get very excited when they meet her. I've seen people faint in front of her. There's a lot of trembling knees and people can't talk sometimes."
Discussing his own views on the Monarch's link to the armed forces and his work with the East Anglian Air Ambulance the Prince said: "I enjoy working with a very professional group of guys and girls. I think the Royal family and the monarchy in particular has always had a close bond with the armed forces. It's a key part of the Royal family and the monarchy to bring that to light."
The Queen's cousin Margaret Rhodes who has known her all life shared lovely insights: "She was very much an ordinary little girl but she was always a slightly serious little girl. In herself she is a very humble person. She has no huge opinion of herself but has given up her life to that particular job that she was called to." Margaret recalled how the Queen approached her destiny: "She once said to me once you have accepted within yourself what is your future you can do it."
Seeing Her Majesty at work at Buckingham Palace was terribly interesting. Her first thought was to enquire if the dreadful weather had taken off an employee's roof. Her personal knowledge is incredible and her ability to put those at ease was evident throughout. We also saw her hard at work with her 'Red Box', which she only gets two days off from: her birthday and Christmas Day.
For the Queen, her passion for horses began at just three years old. There was a lovely scene in which she was feeding them and turned to other people standing there and said: "This is a prima donna. I don't know if you notice her look at you as much as to say, 'Do I look alright?' She is a funny pony." It was in this scene when I think she was most herself, and it was lovely to see that window into her personality and her clear joy and pride in her horses.
The Queen riding her pony, Emma, with head groom, Terry Pendry, at Windsor who described horses as "a very important part of her life. Dare I say, her down time".
The Duchess of Cornwall continued: "She comes down from a very busy week in London, gets on her horse and, you know, you can forget it all. Horses respond to her, they love her. It’s a two-way relationship, they both love each other. She has that wonderful smile which lights up her whole face and you can see the joy she gets from it."
Indeed, it's simple pleasures such as horse riding and spending time in the countryside the Queen appears to enjoy with greatest relish. Balmoral, her and Prince Philip's Scottish retreat, is a place of joy for them both. Princess Eugenie described it as the place she is most happy: "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands…walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there're always dogs, and people coming in and out all the time. Family-wise we're all there, so it's a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa to be - for us to come and see them up there where you just have room to breathe and run."
Viewers were rather thrilled to see this cushion taking pride of place at Balmoral. It was reportedly a gift from Prince Harry (with thanks to Cepe), and I think its display is a testament to the Queen's sense of humour.
Prince Harry spoke of his admiration for his grandmother: "People always say, 'Do you ever feel as though you're following in her footsteps?' And yes, that's exactly what we are doing. There is nowhere on this planet I can think of that she hasn't been in the last 90 years. She's been everywhere, and sometimes that's quite hard because you go to a place where she hasn't visited for 20, maybe 15 years, and you think to yourself, how can I ever fulfill this huge expectation that comes with her and being a member of her family?" Reflecting on his grandmother's famous 1947 speech, when she pledged her allegiance to the Commonwealth on her 21st birthday, Harry gushed: "It's a hugely moving speech. It's just incredible to know that someone of that age appreciated and understood exactly what was expected of them, and to basically put duty ahead of everything else so early on in her life. It's quite remarkable."
The Countess of Wessex, who was filmed at Bagshot, commented on the Queen's sense of style: "When she turns up somewhere, the crowds are 15-deep and somebody wants to be able to say that they saw a bit of the Queen's hat when she went past. She needs to be able to stand out, for people to be able to say, 'I saw the Queen'."
|Countess of Wessex Blog|
The Queen calls Prince Philip "her strength and stay" and listening to the family talk about him it's clear to see the genuine love and affection. A tearful Princess Beatrice discussed the Duke, saying: "My fabulous grandfather. When I talk about my grandfather I really get quite emotional because he is the most unique person and I'm very lucky there have been so many times where I have been able to share magical moments with him." Princess Eugenie added: "He's been there for all the years and I think he's the rock for all of us." Margaret Rhodes, spoke of HM's relationship with Prince Philip: "She comprehensively fell in love with him and never looked at anyone else." The Countess of Wessex added: "He's a gentleman and a gentle man."
The Queen was filmed during her weekly meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron. Upon his arrival she tells him, "I've just been watching you on television, Prime Minister's Questions." Their discussion turns to the terror attacks in Paris. David Cameron spoke of her dedication: "Duty and service, that's what her life has been all about and I know she's admired the world over for it."
President Obama also paid tribute to HM: "For nine decades Her Majesty has been a source of strength and inspiration, not only for the people of Britain, but for millions of people around the world. We often speak of the deep and enduring partnership between our two countries. It is indeed a special relationship, and Her Majesty has been a vital part of what keeps our relationship so special. The United States is extremely grateful for her steady and energetic leadership and we look forward to Her Majesty’s continued service in the years to come. Happy Birthday, your Majesty."
Choosing to screen Our Queen at 90 was a rather marvellous move by ITV. Spending Easter weekend with my family, we all watched it together, and I think we all felt we got to know our Royal family a little bit more. Indeed, I imagine members of the Royal family may have sat around the TV enjoying it together. I expect Kate may have watched it with the Middletons, too. :) What struck me most was the admiration the Royal family have for HM and her unwavering sense of duty. As she approaches her 90th birthday the famous words she spoke on her 21st birthday in 1947 ring as true now as they did then:
'I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.'
Hope you're all enjoying a lovely Easter weekend with your loved ones! :)