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42 of 43 found the following review helpful:
The Queen At Her Best Nov 28, 2008
By John D. Cofield
Since 1969 The Queen has allowed cameras to film her and her family's private lives for documentaries several times. I've watched all of these and found them fairly interesting, but none really gave me the sense that I was really watching the Windsors "behind the scenes". There was always the feeling that they were posing for the camera and on their best behavior, as indeed they have to be most of the time. But in Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work"I really felt for the first time that I was seeing the Royal Family as they truly are: a rather ordinary group of people required by the circumstance of their birth to be placed on a pedestal, but who don't really take themselves all that seriously. I saw this particularly with The Queen herself. Now that she's in her 80s, and after going through what must have been a pretty rotten time of it for the last twenty five years or so, she seems more relaxed and informal than I've ever seen her. She smiles at the camera, makes little asides from time to time, and generally seems to be enjoying herself. I particularly liked the scenes showing a State Visit to Buckingham Palace when an elevator had broken down, and The Queen was shown scurrying around and actually hanging over a bannister to see how her guests were going to get upstairs (eventually she laughed and told us "they're coming up in the staff lift!") I also enjoyed another scene where The Queen reminded us of how regal she can be when the photographer Annie Liebowitz had the temerity to ask her to take off her tiara because it was too dressy. The Queen snorted and said "What do you think this is?" gesturing at her Garter robes.
Another appealing aspect of this series is its focus on the preparations others make for The Queen when she makes an appearance, and how every detail is meticulously taken care of. Other segments deal with the servants who wait on The Queen, allowing us more insight into the running of a palace and how humdrum it can be, no matter how glamourous the settings may be.
Queen Elizabeth II's public life has been exhaustively chronicled almost from the moment of her birth. Now in this series we can get, for possibly the first time, a real sense of her as a private person.
22 of 23 found the following review helpful:
A film which shows one year of unprecedented access to Queen Elizabeth and her family. Feb 22, 2009
By J. Lesley
This superb five part series was a true delight for me. I have to admit to a fascination with the British Royal Family. I understand that is not necessarily a popular opinion in Britian or in America but I have always admired Queen Elizabeth for her steadfast sense of purpose and her willingness to continue placing herself in the public light when it isn't any longer necessary to do so. To watch an institution such as the royal family at work was entertaining and instructive and, at times, just plain fun. The film crew was allowed unprecedented access over a one year period to the daily life of this woman who at 81 (at the time of filming) had been on the throne for 55 years.
This BBC series is presented in five parts as follows, with each part being approximately one hour in length.
1. THE STATE VISIT - This episode shows the Queen both in front of and behind the cameras during a State Visit to the United States. Included are the State Dinner in Washington, a private luncheon in the White House, two functions at the British Embassy in Washington, a visit to Williamsburg, Virginia with a stay at the Williamsburg Inn in Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Colony, Richmond, Virginia and a side trip to the Kentucky Derby.
2. HEADQUARTERS - Here the focus is mainly on Buckingham Palace and the arrangements necessary for a State Visit from the Nigerian President and his wife. It was exceedingly interesting to watch how hands-on the Queen was in all matters even down to trying to help figure out why the lift wasn't working.
3. HEAD OF STATE - Because the Queen is head of a constitutional monarchy she is still considered Head of Parliament (although in name only), the Armed Forces and the Church of England. This segment focused on the preperations for the Opening of Parliament, the speech given by the Queen, and her association with various branches of the military.
4. THE QUEEN AND US - The annual Garden Party hosted by Her Majesty was presented from the viewpoint of some of those invited to attend. This segment focused most often on the Queen and her changing connections with British subjects. At one very, very small day-care center she was so intimate with those parents and children that one child threw a ball which rolled right to the Queen. She resisted the temptation to play ball with the child!
5. INSIDE THE FIRM - This is the episode which features other members of the Royal Family. We see both Prince William and Prince Harry in very informal meetings with charities of which they are patrons and other Royals in slightly more formal settings. One of my favorites was when Prince Charles went to visit a small farm and had tea around the kitchen table from a tea set which was good enough for the family so why not use it to serve him? Lovely!
There is also a 30 minute bonus section showing footage not presented during the other five segments. Some were cute, some funny, but I found all of them extremely enlightening. As I would expect from any BBC production, this film is incredibly wonderful from a technical aspect.
If you are not a fan of the present Queen of England or a system of Monarchy in general, this series will not change your mind. I, on the other hand, was simply amazed to be allowed to watch the members of this family go about their daily lives while making their total of 4,000 appearances within a one year period. No matter what you may think about this Monarchy, they do much more than many people are aware of.
25 of 29 found the following review helpful:
A greater understanding... Jul 01, 2008
Let me preface this review with the fact that I have never really understood the level of fascination that some folks have for 'the royal family'. Let me then say that having watched the abridged version of this on ABC earlier in the year (Feb 08 I believe) really took me by surprise, as I found myself totally riveted to the goings on... the pomp of it all... the wondrous ceremony of everything.
The abridged version was entitled "The Royal Family" and ran some 90 minutes with Barbara Walters slipped in as narrator. This DVD version will be released in its full-length original glory as created for the BBC and while I would never have predicted it about myself, I am totally looking forward to seeing it. Original British narration should lend more credence to a program that takes the viewer inside royal life in epic proportion.
If I were king of the forest.....
10 of 11 found the following review helpful:
Great Insight Jul 01, 2008
This is illuminating five part series which was originally broadcasted on ABC as the abridged special "The Royal Family" provides great insight into the work of the Queen and the other members of her family throughout the span of one year. It shows exclusive access to other members of the royal family, including Prince William, Prince Charles and Prince Harry.
If I'm not mistaken in November 2008 this series will be broadcasted nationally on PBS, adding to the already 14.2 million viewers who have watched it on ABC. Unlike any other dvd about the royal family, this one surely uncovers their lives away from the glare of the public eye.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
Very enlightening May 18, 2011
For anyone who is curious what daily life is like for the Royals, this 5-part documentary is as good as it gets. I have no doubt that everything we see is totally staged, but still, we get a good sense of the royal fishbowl and how it turns. I felt that the Queen was remarkably good-natured considering there were cameras in her face all the time. Her subjects clearly love her (there was some footage of an anti-monarchy demonstration but much more civilized than some of the comments in the reviews here, ahem).
My favorite chapter was the last one about The Family Firm where many members of the Royal Family had their moment in the spotlight. I had to Google the Duke of Gloucester (he is the Queen's first cousin, the second son of the younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI). It was cool seeing Prince Charles speaking for himself - I must admit I have only seen him portrayed by various actors in various movies since he married Diana. The real guy is actually quite personable, based on his footage. Seeing William and Harry was fun, too, and catching a glimpse of William's then-girlfriend Kate Middleton at a military ceremony.
Princess Anne, with a reputation as the hardest-working Royal and possibly the most respected after her mom, talks about how tough the early royal gigs were and how poorly she felt she performed. She is, not surprisingly, quite down to earth. Andrew was a bit of an eye-opener. He focuses on enhancing the image of UK business in the international community. He is not camera friendly.
Finally I was especially interested in the footage of Prince Edward. People tend to forget about him. Seeing him at the recent Royal Wedding inspired me to dig up a book I have always been meaning to read called Edward Windsor Royal Enigma: The True Story of the 7th In Line to the British Throne. I am about halfway through, and he's a pretty fascinating character. In Monarchy he seems eager to show off his flair for the dramatic, acting like a Hollywood film director when stage managing a state occasion. A little needy, maybe.
There is much, much more to this series - 330 minutes of it, including 30 minutes consisting of little vignettes that were consigned to the cutting room floor. I thought it was fascinating. Not for everyone, perhaps, but worth it if you are even a little bit curious about the monarchy.
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