SIR David Attenborough hit out at the BBC over a documentary about the royal family in the 1960s, as the legendary anthropologist and wildlife expert accused producers of “killing the monarchy”, a biography claims.
The British Monarchy had “never quite come to terms with the power of television or appreciated its need to reduce its subject matter to the level of a sound bite,” Ingrid Seward writes in her book “The Queen and Di: The Untold Story”. One of the most intimate looks ever at the British royal family was shown to the public in the 1960s but has reportedly been sitting in a vault ever since. In 1969, Prince Philip agreed to open the royal doors of Buckingham Palace for a landmark BBC documentary, called “The Royal Family”.
Their activities ranged from Prince Philip grilling sausages at Balmoral Castle to the Queen making smalltalk with former US President Richard Nixon.
Royal biographer Ingrid Seward revealed in her book, “The Queen and Di: The Untold Story”, how legendary anthropologist and wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough blasted former BBC director Richard Cawston over the making of the royal documentary in a letter.
She claims Sir David said: “You’re killing the monarchy, you know, with this film you’re making.”
The renowned broadcaster wrote furiously in 1969 to the producer-director of the controversial and groundbreaking BBC television documentary, she adds.
Then a BBC controller, he wrote: “The whole institution depends on mystique and the tribal chief in his hut.
“If any member of the tribe ever sees inside the hut, then the whole system of the tribal chiefdom is damaged and the tribe eventually disintegrates.”
Ms Seward claims in the 2000 biography: “It was a warning which was ignored and, in retrospect, the programme came to be seen to have given fateful encouragement to exactly the kind of intrusive interest in their lives which the royal family were at such pains to avoid.”
On 2018 Amazon Prime documentary “The Story of the Royals” experts claim the documentary kicked off the scrutiny the royals now receive from the public and the press.
Laura Mayhall, co-editor of Women’s Suffrage in the British Empire, said in the special: “I think the monarchy, in a very interesting way in the 1960s, tried to get out ahead of this notion they were out of touch or they were unapproachable.”
She said: “It’s really a vehicle for us to see a little bit behind the scenes, so we can understand the monarchy as people like us.”
The documentary was considered a public relations success.
However, even though it was a huge achievement, the Queen reportedly ordered it to be put away in a vault – and it has never been seen in its entirety since then.
Robert Lacey, historical consultant on Netflix’s The Crown, said: “They realised that if they did something like that too often, they would cheapen themselves, letting the magic seep out.”
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