The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2003 · 65
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 65

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Sunday, November 30, 2003
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65
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mm THE OTTAWA CITIZEN MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2002 All QUEEN ELIZABETH II mm THE GOLDEN JUBILEE By Daniel drolet n the summer of 1969, television viewers watched in awe as images from another world flickered on their screens. Was this really happening? Was that really Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, barbecuing sausages at a Balmoral picnic? Was that really the Queen washing up? Yes, it was and to many viewers who watched the 90-minute documentary, Royal Family, on June 21, 1969, it seemed as unreal and otherworldly as the broadcast, one month later, that had people around the world glued to their TV sets to watch American astronaut Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the moon. ' For the first time, the Royal Family was allowing itself to be the subject of a documentary film a film that portrayed not only official duties, but behind-the-scenes vignettes from daily life. For the first time, too, a royal event the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales on July 1, 1969 was staged and crafted specifically for television. (What? You weren't watching TV that summer? You must have been on your way to Woodstock, the mega music festival of the year and a defining event for the baby boom generation.) As it reflected back on 1969, the World Book Encyclopedia's summary of the year noted that "it was the Royal Family's best year in show business." But there was no going back: From here on in, the Royal Family's business was, increasingly, show business. Royal Family was not the product of totally unrestricted access to the Queen and her entourage; it was a carefully crafted public relations exercise over which the Queen had a final veto. The 43 hours of raw r . ' iooiage were eaiiea aown to 90 judiciously chosen minutes. The Royal Family's business was, increasingly, show business. And don't go looking to rent it at the video store: The Queen controls the film and does not allow it to be shown very often. The purpose of the film was clear: It was meant to modernize the image of the Royal Family in the eyes of a public that was tiring of pomp and pomposity. "The issue was simple and immediate," writes Jonathan Dimbleby, Prince Charles's official biographer. "Times were changing. Television had started to probe beneath the surface. Public officials were under scrutiny. The mismatch between that searching and skeptical attitude and the sepulchral formality with which the monarchy was portrayed was glaring." 1 More specifically, the film was meant to brighten up the image of Prince Charles as he, in his 21st year, began to take on official adult duties. It was no coincidence that it was shown only days before his investiture as Prince of Wales. J "Until the 1969 broadcasts," writes Mr. Dimbleby, "the public had never heard the prince utter a word." His public image, in the words of one courtier, was that of a. wimp. The prince's investiture ceremony at the ancient castle of Caernarvon was staged specifically for its estimated 500 million TV viewers by the Queen's brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon, a renowned photographer. "So much had attitudes changed since the Coronation that the entire event was conceived by Snowdon to ensure that the television cameras could observe every moment of it from all angles without obstruction to satisfy the demands of a medium whose very presence had begun to define the significance of a public occasion," wrote Mr. Dimbleby. 'The stark stage was covered, to protect it from rain, by a clear caiiopy made from a material called Perspex ("Just like Henry V would have done, if he'd had Perspex," Lord Snowdon remarked at thetime.) ' , -And to help defray costs and head off criticism about public money being used for such an event official guests could, for 12 pounds (about $30), buy the collapsible wooden chairs they sat on to watch the ceremony. The screening of Royal Family The Royal Family tunes into television to modernize its image for a public tiring of pomp and pomposity. lillt" llIF ml If -Q! ,:mxV' it JhtTLf .'C 7 Vfn III Jr 1 j X M ' j::t - ' C4 r 13 :V ' HULTON-ARCHIVE BY GETTY IMAGES The investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales at the ancient Welsh castle of Caernarvon on July 1, 1969, was the first time a royal event was specifically staged for television. Cameras were allowed to observe every moment from all angles. U '' HEADLINES Jan. 5: Launch of Venus probe Venera 5, which became the first successful landing on another planet. (It landed in May.) Feb. 26: Golda Meir becomes prime minister of Israel. June 28: Stonewall riots in New York signal beginning of modern gay rights movement. July 9: Royal Assent is given to a law making English and French official languages of the federal administration. July 20: First humans land on the moon. Aug. 14: British troops intervene militarily in Northern Ireland. Oct. 7: Violence and looting erupt in Montreal during a police strike. FACTS & FIGURES Number of immigrants to Canada: 161,531 Number of people granted citizenship: 59,900 Number of passenger cars sold in Canada: 763,000 Federal budget deficit: $400 million. Grammy record of the year: Mrs. Robinson, by Simon and Garfunkel . Stanley Cup winners: Montreal over St. Louis in four straight games. BIRTHS Michael Schumacher: The racing driver, a three-time Formula 1 winner, was born in Germany on Jan. 3. Jennifer Aniston: The Friends actress was born in Sherman Oaks, California, on Feb. 11. Steffi Graf: German tennis player, an Olympic and Wimbledon champion, is born on June 14. Matthew Perry: TV actor, also famous for Friends, was born on Aug. 19. Carlo Ponti Jr.: The conductor and pianist is the son of director Carlo Ponti and actress Sophia Loren. DEATHS i Ho Chi Minh: Tjhe Communist leader of North Vietnam died on Sept. 3. Dwight D. Eisenhower: A top Allied general during the Second World War and two-term president of the United States, he died on March 28. Judy Garland: The actress and singer, one of Hollywood's top stars in the 1940s, died on June 22 at age 47, wrecked by alcohol and pills. Rocky Marciano: A world heavyweight champion and one of boxing's all-time greats, died at 46 on Aug. 31. Walter Gropius: The German-born architect and designer who founded the Bauhaus school of design died on July 5. in June and the prince's televised investiture on July l were a one-two public relations exercise. And as a public relations exercise, it worked wonders. But was all this exposure a good thing? The Queen wasn't so sure: In December, fearing overexposure, she cancelled her own Christmas Day broadcast. And never again has she allowed cameras in so close. In the end, opinion was divided. "It was a watershed the first time we had seen Prince Philip barbecuing," said film director Bryan Forbes, a friend of Princess Margaret's, in a published interview. "It was an effort on the part of the Royal Family, or the royal advisers, to bring them into the current mood, as it were, and to get rid of some of the mystique. "But of course, if you let the genie out of the bottle, you can never put the cork back in again. And a lot of people think, with hindsight, that it was a mistake." "If it was a slippery slope," writes Mr. Dimbleby, "it was, so far as (press secretary William) Heseltine could see, the only route available; otherwise the monarchy would either fade into unwonted obscurity, or find itself under growing assault by the disaffected, reviled for being aloof and indifferent" "This is an insoluble problem " Lady Pamela Hicks, younger daughter of Lord Mountbatten and Prince Philip's first cousin, told an interviewer. "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.' "You can't do right; it's catch-22." HULTON ARCHIVE BY GETTY IMAGES The Queen clocks Prince Charles and Prince Edward go-karting in April 1969. Until the broadcast of the documentary the Royal Family, 'the public had never heard the prince utter a word,' says Jonathan Dimbleby, Prince Charles's biographer. 6

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