Queen’s reign examined


Three-part BBC documentary series The Diamond Queen premieres on SABC3 on Sunday 20 May at 8.30pm. The series is presented by British journalist and political commentator Andrew Marr and looks at the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, with special interviews and remarkable archive footage.

The Diamond Queen is a landmark documentary series from the BBC to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years as head of State of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, making her the first monarch in modern history to reach their Diamond Jubilee. To mark the occasion The Diamond Queen presents a definitive analysis of The Queen’s reign, examining her history, constitutional role and responsibilities and her impact around the world. It features interviews with prime ministers, world leaders and special interviews with members of the royal family, and closely follows the Queen’s working engagements around the world for the period of more than a year and a half.

In the first episode, Marr tells the childhood story of the young girl who never expected to reign. He looks closely at the influence of her grandfather, father and mother and the impact of the abdication, and hears from the Queen’s grandchildren about what it must have been like to become queen at the age of 25. Marr examines exactly what the Queen’s role as head of state actually entails, and follows her to the Middle East and the US to assess the global impact of the royal family on British trade and international relations

In the second of three programmes, he assesses her moves to modernise the monarchy, from the abolition of the presentation of debutantes in 1958 to the very modern wedding of William and Catherine last year. Princes William and Harry are on hand to talk about their grandmother’s influence on the wedding day, from the guest list to the choice of uniforms. Marr also looks back at the challenges faced by the monarchy in the ‘annus horribilis’ of 1992, follows the Queen on her groundbreaking visit to the Republic of Ireland last May, and looks back on the happy times she spent on the Royal Yacht Britannia and the sadness she so visibly exhibited when it was decommissioned in 1997. Peter and Zara Phillips talk about family holidays on the yacht and Tony Blair speaks of the difficult decision he took to scrap it when he came to power in 1997.

In the finale, Marr looks at the defining moments of the Queen’s reign, beginning with her accession to the throne in 1952 and her coronation sixteen months later. He examines how she has coped with decades of changing and sometimes tense relations with the media, looks backwards and forwards at royal Jubilees and charts her trip to Australia to look at what some see as her most enduring achievement, the Commonwealth. And, for the first time, all of the Queen’s adult grandchildren have their say about ‘The Diamond Queen’.


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