The Documentary about Queen Elizabeth that Caused a Water Shortage


Queen ElizabethFor a 1969 documentary, she welcomed her British subjects to the palace. While she tried to humanize her royal family, she only managed to create a national shortage of water. Here’s what went down… and what didn’t go down.

Humility is essential

The summer of 1969 saw Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, Bill Russell winning his 11th and final NBA championship, and Bryan Adams getting his first real six-string down at the Five & Dime. Queen Elizabeth of England was trying to soften the image she wanted for the royal family in London. 

Lord Brabourne (the son-in law of Lord Mountbatten) suggested the family use television as a way to improve their image. The royal family has always had a flare of mystique to it, but the swingin’ 60s made that look lame and crusty. Elizabeth agreed to the idea because Prince Philip believed it would strengthen the monarchy. Filming began in 1968, despite the protests of her children. Royal Family.

A Proper Event

The broadcast was shown to all citizens on June 12, 1969. Some highlights were included in the documentary. Elizabeth joined Prince Edward for a trip to buy sweets. Prince Charles looked dashing on a waterski and Prince Philip displayed his piloting skills. Although the documentary received a lot of criticism, it was well received. It’s hard to relate a family who lives in a palace, carouses about silly guests, and fobs off-world events.

Tune In by the Millions

It was an overwhelming success in terms of sheer number. In Great Britain alone, the broadcast reached 30 million viewers. This is nearly half the country’s total. It’s believed that the documentary caused a surprising side effect. Intermission saw Londoners rush to the toilet, creating a shortage of water. You can’t imagine Elizabeth ever factored that in.

Did it Work?

Even after decades, the opinions remain mixed. Royal Family. While some critics believe it was a paradigm shift for Elizabeth’s perception, others believe it only opened up the family to more criticism. One royal cousin Lady Pamela Hicks, opined: “They were criticized for being stuffy, and not letting anybody know what they were doing, and my brother-in-law helped do up a film, and now people say, ‘Ah, of course, the rot set in when the film was made.”

Her point was that there is no way to please everyone. The royal family didn’t lie about what they saw. It only allowed the documentary to air in its entirety once more. Short clips were never shown again after 1977. Perhaps it’s out of fear of another water shortage. The entire documentary, without the toilet incident would unsurprisingly be a subject. The Crown.

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