Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen

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Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen
Genre Documentary film
Written by Antony Jay
Edward Mirzoeff
Directed by Edward Mirzoeff
Narrated by Ian Holm
Composer(s) Rachel Portman
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) BBC
Producer(s) Edward Mirzoeff
Running time 110 minutes
Picture format Colour
Original release 6 February 1992
Preceded by Royal Family (1969)
Followed by Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work

Elizabeth R is a 1992 television documentary film about Queen Elizabeth II. It was produced by the BBC and directed by Edward Mirzoeff. It was the second officially approved documentary about the British royal family since 1969's Royal Family.[1][2] Elizabeth R was followed by the BBC-RDF documentary Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work in 2007.[3]


The film was produced by BBC to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession.[4] The director and producer was Edward Mirzoeff.[5] The writers of the screenplay were Mirzoeff and Antony Jay, who also wrote the script of the 1969 royal documentary, Royal Family.[3][6] The program was narrated by Ian Holm and Rachel Portman's music was specially composed for the film.[7]

The filming took place over 18 months.[8] Before its public air, the Royal Family watched it and approved its broadcasting.[9] The format of the 110-minute film is color and NTSC.[10] A VHS video of the program was released in 1992.[8]

The script of the program was later published as a book with the same title.[3][11]

Broadcast and synopsis[edit]

The film was aired on 6 February 1992, the 40th Accession Day of the Queen, and it was also broadcast in more than 25 countries around the world.[12] It was aired on PBS in the US on 16 November 1992.[9]

It contains a wide range of royal activities by the Queen in 1991 and provides various firsts such as voiceover commentary by the Queen.[13] It shows royal family gatherings, her state visit to the United States, a pony ride with her grandchildren at Balmoral Castle and the preparations for a banquet at Windsor Castle among the others.[10] It also displays meetings of the Queen with a number of significant political figures, including Francesco Cossiga, Edward Heath, Ronald Reagan and Lech Walesa.[9][13] The Queen is also depicted with her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on Derby Day at Epsom in the film.[9]


The film mostly received positive reviews, including those from the Queen herself.[9] The Queen organized a party for the crew at Buckingham Palace after watching the film before its public broadcast.[9] It gained the largest audience for a documentary in the history of British television and was watched by more than half of the British population in 1992.[8][9] The film won an award.[14] Robert Hardman of the Spectator argued that Antony Jay, the script writer, redefined the function of the British Monarch through this documentary.[14] However, Jeff Silverman of Variety said that the film did not refer to any familial troubles and added "God save the queen; the BBC couldn't."[4]

Its video version became one of the fastest selling video in the United Kingdom the same year.[8] Amazon customers rated its video 4.5 out of 5.[10] In February 2016 its IMDb rate is 8.5 out of 10 based on 20 reviews.[15]


  1. ^ Alexander Chancellor (30 November 1992). "Queen's gambit". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Mark Lawson (15 March 2013). "Our Queen: the latest royal TV to tell us almost nothing". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c David Hayes (19 April 2012). "A long reign and a lost republic". Inside Story. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Jeff Silverman (15 November 1992). "Review: "Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen"". Variety. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Elizabeth R (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Full cast and crew for Elizabeth R (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Linda Joffee (10 September 1992). "Rare Video Portrait of the Queen". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g James Fallon (16 November 1992). "Prime-time Queen". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c "Elizabeth R.: A Year in the Life [VHS] (1992)". Amazon. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Elizabeth R: The Role of the Monarchy Today". International Historic Films. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Public life 1992-2001". The British Monarch. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Overview". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Robert Hardman (20 October 2011). "Yes, Ma'am". The Spectator. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Elizabeth R (1992)". IMDb. Retrieved 8 February 2017.