The Queen and Philip: the Crystal Palace footage that tells their story

Museum has paid tribute with video describing how they set out on their first date as Elizabeth II was crowned king The British Museum has commemorated the first anniversary of the marriage of the…

The Queen and Philip: the Crystal Palace footage that tells their story

Museum has paid tribute with video describing how they set out on their first date as Elizabeth II was crowned king

The British Museum has commemorated the first anniversary of the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip by using black and white footage of their courtship and eventual marriage in 1937 to tell their tale.

The two married on Saturday, 9 November, at Westminster Abbey and on Sunday the video was shown at the museum as part of The Great Exhibition: The Crystal Palace Collection, a new exhibition about the exhibition that took place at the same site in 1889.

Memories of that year and the Crystal Palace Photograph: M R Cox/Getty Images

Freddie King, curator of Old Europe, told the Guardian: “In this one-minute clip you see how both Elizabeth and Philip began their first date, that early stage when attraction was at its most intense.

“Elizabeth was at Sandringham, and Philip was at Horse Guards Parade in London, about to board a train to go to Kenya. He seems completely relaxed and quite happy in this film. This is a younger Elizabeth because she is an early teenager and he is head of the household at the time, but they had been together for a long time by then.

“Now these films are more like ancient relics, but our experience is that they can give a unique perspective on what it was like for people who were involved in that particular period.”

He said people might have a better impression of how things were in that era if they saw it told from the couple’s eyes. “There is no doubt that they could just communicate on such a personal level because they didn’t realise they were being recorded.”

What changes the way we talk about the past? The Crystal Palace exhibition by Claire Carvill – in pictures Read more

The royal couple married five months after Philip was appointed president of the Royal Drawing School.

The couple met on a night out to watch a boxing match. Some viewed it as a brave step in the post-Edwardian era of restricting men from working too much, but Philip worked both as a naval officer and chartered surveyor and a cartographer.

“Even then women’s interest in horse riding is clearly at a really early stage. When we show the film we are showing a slice of that early romance,” King said.

“I always say that Elizabeth is the kind of woman who naturally picks men who are in a sense suited to her. She is intensely loyal and warm, but also very strong-willed, very clever and so forth. She looks for qualities in her partners that are ideally suited to her. That is the story we hear and there is no mistaking that Queen Elizabeth used these qualities in her husband in their courtship. It wasn’t a romantic relationship, it was about common sense.”

The piece reflects other recent works that have sought to represent the couple more sensitively, he said.

“We didn’t show a body of work that was about Elizabeth’s life or looking at the court that she would have lived in. We had to show the life as well as the marriage. The documentary is important because it brings back to the public a sense of the beginning of their relationship in 1937. When you look at their features and the way they look at one another, it is very clear that they were in love.”

Leave a Comment