Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen

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Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen
GenreDocumentary film
Written byAntony Jay
Edward Mirzoeff
Directed byEdward Mirzoeff
Narrated byIan Holm
Composer(s)Rachel Portman
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Edward Mirzoeff
Running time110 minutes
Production company(s)BBC
Picture formatColour
Original release6 February 1992
Preceded byRoyal Family (1969)
Followed byMonarchy: The Royal Family at Work (2007)

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 first officially approved documentary about the British monarchy since Royal Family (1969).[1][2] Elizabeth R was followed by the BBC-RDF documentary Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work in 2007.[3]


The film was made by BBC to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession.[4] It was directed and produced by Edward Mirzoeff.[5] Mirzoeff co-wrote with script with Antony Jay, who had also written the script for the Royal Family (1969).[3][6] The programme was narrated by Ian Holm, and Rachel Portman composed the music.[7]

Filming took place over 18 months.[8] The Royal family watched and approved of the documentary before it was broadcast on television.[9] A VHS video was released in 1992.[8]

The script of the programme was later published as a book with the same title.[3][10]

Broadcast and synopsis[edit]

The film 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.[11] It aired on PBS in the United States 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.[12] 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. 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][12] The Queen is also shown with her mother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, at the Epsom Derby.[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.[13] Robert Hardman of the Spectator argued that Antony Jay, the script writer, redefined the function of the British Monarch through this documentary.[13] 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 VHS copy became one of the fastest selling videos in the United Kingdom.[8]


  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. ^ "Elizabeth R: The Role of the Monarchy Today". International Historic Films. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Public life 1992-2001". The British Monarch. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Overview". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  13. ^ a b Robert Hardman (20 October 2011). "Yes, Ma'am". The Spectator. Retrieved 16 August 2013.