In an attempt to appeal to the public, the Royal Family once agreed to partake in a BBC documentary that followed their daily lives in Buckingham Palace (as depicted in season three of The Crown). The resulting film would haunt them for decades to come — even after the project was long banned by Queen Elizabeth herself.
The documentary, simply titled Royal Family, was essentially a public relations operation pitched by the Queen’s Press Secretary at the time, William Heseltine; by showing the masses a behind-the-scenes look at their personal lives, the Royal Family could make themselves look more relatable to their subjects. Lack of respect for and interest in The Crown during a time of social unrest created a unique problem for the royals that Heseltine (with the enthusiastic support of Prince Philip) believed could only be solved by letting the curtain of royal living fall for the first time.
Most reactions to the film were positive — it was reportedly viewed by 40 million people worldwide, including 68% of the British public — but Royal Family didn’t exactly have the intended results. While it did cast the Queen in a new light by giving the world to see her has a doting mother and wife, there were some who felt like the documentary had exposed too much, stripping England’s oldest establishment of its mystery. Naturalist and close friend of the Royal Family David Attenborough even accused director Richard Cawston of “killing the monarchy.” It didn’t take long before Queen Elizabeth began to be concerned by the idea of sharing the details her personal life, within three years of its release, Royal Family was prohibited from being viewed without the Queen’s consent.
However, more than 50 years later, the banned film popped up again, this time on an even bigger platform: YouTube. Someone mysteriously uploaded the full documentary onto the video-sharing platform twice, giving curious fans a chance to see what exactly was so personal about Royal Family that the Queen literally outlawed it. What they stumbled upon were scenes of basic family life, like quaint family dinners and a young Prince Edward learning how to read — nothing too embarrassing.
Nonetheless, the video has already been yanked off of YouTube and will likely be removed again if it ever resurfaces. We’ll just have to be satisfied watching The Crown for our royal tea. Even though it’s far more revealing than Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth and her family don’t seem to mind it nearly as much.