“A Year with the Royal Family” from 4 February
Channel 9 announces that the long awaited and initially controversial five part series, A Year with the Royal Family, narrated by Cate Blanchet, will be broadcast weekly by the national 9 network from 4 February, 2008, at 730PM. Details of the five episodes follow, and a video promotion for the series can be seen on the Channel 9 site.
The history of this series, and details of the ealrier problems associated with it can be followed found in our column of 16 December,2007, and references there to earlier columns.
In announcing the series Nine said:
“This amazing documentary series provides an exceptional insight into the work of Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family over the course of a year.
“ From major state visits and royal tours to smaller meetings and audiences, the series gives viewers a remarkable picture of how the monarchy operates at home and abroad.
“We take a close look at the monarchy's headquarters, Buckingham Palace. With 650 rooms and nearly 40 acres of garden, London's most famous address is also the head of state's official offices, a museum, a residence and a focal point for national celebrations and important state occasions.
“All four of The Queen's children talk frankly for the first time about their working roles, about the jobs which they were born into and which will occupy the rest of their lives.”
We shall be watching. Details of the five episodes follow, with our suggested dates, and our proposed titles follow:
Episode 1: 4 February,2008 Four Hundred Years in the Americas
The Palace is getting ready for the Queen's state visit to the United States to mark the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, at Jamestown, Virginia. Preparations include a private dinner for prominent American ex-pats at Buckingham Palace and a portrait session with the respected US photographer, Annie Leibovitz. On the other side of the Atlantic, President George W Bush – the tenth president to meet the Queen – and his wife Laura prepare to host the only white-tie banquet of his presidency.
Episode 2: 11 February, 2008 The Palace
The second programme goes inside the Monarchy's headquarters, Buckingham Palace, as preparations are made for the traditional royal gathering on the palace balcony for the Queen’s birthday parade. An impressive state banquet is held for President Kufuor of Ghana and the palace ballroom is transformed into the magnificent backdrop for the investiture ceremony, with Steven Gerrard and Penelope Keith among those nervously lining up to receive an honour. Behind-the-scenes footage shows the hard work that goes on all year round, from the Queen planning her engagements to her ladies-in-waiting sorting through the royal postbag.
Episode 3: 18 February, 2008 Her Majesty's Government
This week's programme concentrates on the role of the Queen and her government. The episode opens with outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie spending the weekend with the Royal Family at the Queen's Scottish estate, Balmoral. Elsewhere, the future prime minister, Gordon Brown, briefs the Queen in advance of his final budget as Chancellor. Preparations are shown for the spectacular State Opening of Parliament, as the crown jewels are removed from the Tower and the Queen's coachmen put on their 100-year-old costumes. Meanwhile, the government and the palace are preparing for the Queen's historic tour of the Baltic States, where no British monarch has ever set foot before.
Episode 4 : 25 February, 2008 The Queen and Her People
Every year the Royal Family performs around 4,000 official engagements, many taking months – even years – of planning. The dependable 'Garden Party Ladies' annually write out 40,000 invitations for the famous palace garden parties. The Queen is a hands-on hostess, personally checking all the arrangements in advance. Meanwhile a Northumberland farming family prepare to treat the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to tea in their kitchen. Elsewhere, the Queen travels to a Premiership football club where it is discovered that even the most thorough arrangements don't always go to plan.
Episode 5: 3 March, 2008 : Royal Family
In the final instalment, all four of the Queen's children talk frankly for the first time about their working roles as part of the Royal Family. The younger generation are also seen to be getting involved. There's an early-morning surprise for the residents of an inner-city hostel when they come down to breakfast and find Prince William making the coffee. Prince Harry attends a strategy meeting for his African charity, Sentebale. And we see what happens when all the family turn up for a very proud moment at Sandhurst.