It turns out that being the Queen isn’t all cocktails and corgis.
A new documentary featuring the monarch herself has revealed the trials and tribulations that come from holding such a regal position of power.
She rarely gives interviews and almost never tells personal anecdotes about her time on the throne. But she talks candidly about her time as head of state in an hour-long BBC programme called The Coronation.
One of her main complaints is that the Imperial State Crown is so heavy she struggles to wear it.
Talking about the moment she was crowned, she jokes that she was unable to look down because the crown, which weighs 1.28kg (2lbs 13oz), made her feel like her ‘neck would break’.
The Queen is shown in conversation with royal commentator Alastair Bruce. The crown, which is worn when delivering the speech during the state opening of parliament, has clearly caused her some consternation over the years.
She said: ‘Fortunately, my father and I have about the same sort of shaped head. But once you put it on, it stays. I mean, it just remains on.
‘You can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did your neck would break, it would fall off.
‘So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise they’re quite important things.’
Who knew that wearing a crown could be so perilous? It was made for George VI’s coronation in 1937, and is set with a breathtaking amount of jewels. It has 2,868 diamonds, hundreds of pearls, 17 sapphires and 11 emeralds. It contains a gemstone called the Black Prince’s Ruby, which is believed to have been worn at the 1415 Battle of Agincourt by Henry V.
She also speaks about the nuisance of riding in a golden carriage and of the heavy ceremonial robes she wore during her coronation.
She was brought to a sudden stop when the robes dragged a lot on the thick pile carpet of Westminster Abbey. The dress she wore was silk embroidered with gold, and silver bullion thread and pearls. The Queen said: ‘Well, I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn’t move at all. . . They hadn’t thought of that.’
She perhaps would have a preferred a different form of transport to the golden carriage, which transported her from Buckingham palace to Westminster Abbey. She described the journey as ‘horrible – it’s only sprung on leather, not very comfortable’.
Speaking generally about the coronation, she commented: ‘It’s the sort of, I suppose, the beginning of one’s life really as a sovereign.
‘It is sort of a pageant of chivalry and old-fashioned way of doing things, really. I’ve seen one coronation and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.’
Viewers are also treated to some behind-the-scenes footage of a four-year-old Prince Charles and his younger sister Anne playing hide-and-seek underneath the Queen’s long formal robes. ‘Not what they’re meant to do,’ the Queen drily remarked.
The documentary will be shown as part of the Royal Collection Season, a partnership between the Royal Collection Trust and the BBC. Viewers can look forward to the four-part television series, Art, Passion and Power: The Story of the Royal Collection.
You can watch The Coronation at 8pm on Sunday, January 14 on BBC One and afterwards on iPlayer.
Curious to know more about the Queen’s life? Check out what she eats during the course of a day.