Produced by the BBC Studios Documentary Unit, the one-hour documentary, entitled “Our Queen At War,” tells the story of how the war transformed a teenage princess into the country’s longest-reigning monarch.
The Queen recently remarked on her wartime experience in an address to the U.K. — only the fifth such address in her 68-year reign — when she recalled a radio broadcast made at Windsor in 1940 with her younger sister, Princess Margaret. “We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety,” she said during the April 5 broadcast.
The ITV doc further chronicles how, from meeting the man she would later marry, Philip Mountbatten, at the age of 13, to the demands of making a radio broadcast to the Empire, to experiencing the terror of a V-1 bomb, Princess Elizabeth had to grow up fast.
Unlike many of her peers who were evacuated abroad, Elizabeth remained in Britain. She was prepared for the throne by studying the British constitution at Eton College, while putting on fundraising pantomimes at Windsor Castle and worrying about the safety of her parents who remained at Buckingham Palace.
By the time she was 16, the princess was inspecting the troops and launching ships while living in a secret location and keeping up with developments in the war by watching weekly newsreels. At 18, she joined the women’s arm of the British Army, the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), and became the first female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces.
The documentary features testimony of a childhood friend, royal biographers and experts along with wartime evacuees, as well as archive and home movie footage.
The documentary is BBC Studios Production’s second commission from U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV, following “Prince Charles: Inside the Duchy of Cornwall,” which transmitted last autumn.
“Our Queen at War” was commissioned by Tom Giles, controller of current affairs at ITV. The executive producer at BBC Studios Production is Chris Granlund and the producer-director is Christopher Bruce.