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Banned 1960s Royal Family Documentary Resurfaces Online

Royal Family: Banned 1969 BBC Documentary Resurfaces
January 29, 2021 - 17:26 / Lucas Anderson

A long-unseen 1960s documentary about the British Royal Family recently resurfaced on YouTube. The controversial BBC film from 1969, titled Royal Family, showed life with the Royals behind closed doors — but it was pulled after a poor reception, reportedly on the request of Buckingham Palace. It's unclear just how long the documentary was online, but it's since been removed following a copyright request, according to CNN.

A film the Royal Family doesn't want you to see recently appeared on YouTube. 1969 BBC documentary Royal Family was a TV phenomenon when it aired, giving millions worldwide a view of the British Royal Family behind closed doors.

But the film was buried in the archives of the BBC afterward, reportedly because Buckingham Palace was unhappy with the portrayal of the Royals and the reception of the documentary. This week, Royal Family mysteriously resurfaced on YouTube, providing a first look at the film since the 1970s, before it was quickly removed on a copyright claim.

Royal Family, 1969 BBC documentary, resurfaces in 2021

Today, CNN reported that Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the story and that the BBC declined to comment on if it was behind the copyright claim that led to Royal Family's removal. The 110-minute film, in full, can no longer be found on YouTube.

Royal Family (1969) documentary: Queen Elizabeth films with President of Tanzania. 

Royal Family was filmed across 18 months in the late 1960s, conceived as an effort to humanize the Royals and make life at Royal residences appear in touch with reality. Queen Elizabeth II was in her early 40s and had ruled for over 15 years at the time. Prince Charles and Princess Anne were young adults, while Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were still children.

What was so bad in Royal Family film? Can you watch it now?

According to PA Media, unfavourable scenes in Royal Family included the Queen comparing the United States Ambassador to "a gorilla" and Her Majesty shopping with a 6-year-old Prince Edward and calling candy a "disgusting gooey mess." Then U.S. President Richard Nixon also appears in the film.

Royal Family (1969): Prince Philip paints during filming of the documentary.

The original 1969 broadcast of Royal Family was watched by over 30 million viewers and remains the third-most watched event in British television history. The filming of the documentary was also featured in an episode of The Crown season 3, which portrayed the family's unease with the documentary and embarrassment at its reception.

Brief clips are still found on YouTube today and an incomplete version of the film now exists on Archive.org.