“Queen & Country,” a new four-part PBS series celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, will premiere on WNET New York on Sunday, July 1 at 8 p.m.
Veteran newsman looks at the traditions and institutions surrounding the monarchy as England fetes its second longest-reigning monarch
In 2012, all eyes are on Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch, as England marks her Diamond Jubilee. In the wake of the celebration of her 60 years as British monarch, Trevor McDonald’s “Queen & Country”, a new four-part series premiering on Sundays, July 1, 8, 15 and 22 at 8 p.m. on WNET and the PBS network, offers viewers a look at the customs surrounding the monarchy – from the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to the Queen’s royal visits – and a glimpse of the greatest historic royal places.
“It has been remarkable to observe how the Queen has been able to update this remarkable institution with a modern face with such dignity and grace and charm,” said McDonald. “If anything, it has made the monarchy a much more solid institution than we ever thought it could be.”
Episode One: London: Royal City
London is, indisputably, the capital of Britain’s royal life. Here, the young Princess Elizabeth grew up before World War II. Here she and her sister, Margaret, mingled, incognito, with the joyous crowds on VE Day. Here, she was crowned queen at the age of 26 after the death of her father, King George. Join Sir Trevor McDonald as he introduces us to the ongoing traditions of the monarchy in London, from members of the Grenadier Guards, the Scots Guards of Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards and to the opening of the Parliament by the Queen.
Episode Two: Royal Visit
The Queen’s year is driven by her diary – and has been since her accession in 1952. See her in Scotland at the Braemar Gathering (which she has attended 70 times) and follow her on a visit to Liverpool – the sort of regional trip that is considered a great honor by the small city. And, we see that in 1953, filmmakers endeavored to shoot unique 3D footage, which is now held by the British Film Institute.
Episode Three: The Queen’s Possessions
The Queen has some surprising possessions. Among them are Westminster Abbey, the Royal Swans and the Chapels Royal. These are “peculiars of the crown” – as are the Tower of London, which is part of a collection of Historic Royal Places, and the Tower of London ravens – it’s rumored that if they ever left, the tower would fall. The Queen also owns the Channel Islands, where islanders still call Her Majesty the Duke of Normandy to remind outsiders that they were on the winning side with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Not forgetting the Royal Collection – to which she has added nearly 150 portraits over the past six decades – follow the process used to create one of the most unusual.
Episode 4: Traveller
The queen is head of the 16 realms that make up the Commonwealth. In Perth, Western Australia, Queen Elizabeth is on tour before opening the Heads of Government Meeting, which is especially important for the monarchy. The Commonwealth countries are being asked to change the rules of succession so that a first-born girl may inherit the crown. If approved, it will be the single biggest change to the monarchy for centuries. At the age of 85, the queen remains undaunted by long-haul travel – as this program shows.
The series is a co-production with Sky 3D, History and THIRTEEN in association with WNET. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV.