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Queen Elizabeth II — her life on television in pictures

Queen Elizabeth II on a royal visit wearing blue
(Image credit: Getty)

Following the sad news that Her Majesty The Queen has died at the age of 96, we take a look back at some of the milestone moments in her historical life which were documented on television. 

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II — 1953

Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her Coronation in 1953

Queen Elizabeth II on the day of her Coronation in 1953. (Image credit: Getty)

Queen Elizabeth II's coronation took place on June 2 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London when she was only 27. She had acceded the throne the previous year, following the death of her father, King George VI.

The milestone event also marked a moment in television history, making TV a mainstream medium with more than 20 million people watching the service, outnumbering the radio audience for the first time.

The Royal Family documentary — 1969

Queen Elizabeth II taking part in a royal documentary in 1969

Queen Elizabeth II taking part in a royal documentary in 1969. (Image credit: Getty)

Royal Family was a British television documentary about the family of Queen Elizabeth II originally aired on BBC One and ITV in June 1969. The film attracted over 30 million viewers in the UK and was then sold around the world. It is thought that the documentary, which hasn't been seen on British TV since 1977, has been watched by an estimated 350 million people since it was made. 

The Wimbledon finals — 1977

Queen Elizabeth II presenting Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy in 1977

Queen Elizabeth II presented Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy in 1977. (Image credit: Getty)

It has been a British tradition that a member of the royal family presents the winners of Wimbledon with their trophy, but despite being the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for 64 years, The Queen only visited the championships four times in her lifetime. The Queen's visits to Wimbledon took place in July 1957, July 1977 (when she presented Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy, see above) and July 1962. Her most recent visit was in June 2010 when she watched Andy Murray beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

Visiting the set of Coronation Street — 1982

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of Coronation Street in 1982

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of Coronation Street in 1982. (Image credit: Getty)

The Queen first visited the Manchester set of the longest-running British soap on May 5 1982. During her visit, she walked the famous cobbles, saw the show's set, and met many cast and crew members who lined the street, including Doris Speed (Annie Walker), Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch) and Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin). 

The Queen and Prince Philip's 1982 visit to the set was broadcast live on ITV in a special 30-minute episode called The Queen in Coronation Street.

Meeting Barbara Windsor on the EastEnders set — 2001

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of EastEnders with Barbara Windsor in 2001

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of EastEnders with Barbara Windsor in 2001. (Image credit: Getty)

The Queen also visited the EastEnders studio in Hertfordshire to watch the soap being filmed and even admitted to Dame Barbara Windsor, who was her chaperone for the visit, that she had made an effort to catch up on the plot by watching a number of recent episodes before her arrival.

The Olympics opening ceremony — 2012

Queen Elizabeth II with Daniel Craig for the Olympics opening ceremony

Queen Elizabeth II with Daniel Craig for the Olympics opening ceremony. (Image credit: Getty)

Never one to shy away from an important moment in the nation's history, The Queen took part in the opening ceremony when the Olympics came to London in 2012. The Queen starred with Daniel Craig in a comedy sketch that appeared to see her jump out of a helicopter and parachute into the Olympic stadium.

It has since been hinted that The Queen kept her involvement in the opening sketch a secret from the rest of the Royal Family, wanting them to enjoy the surprise with the rest of the world.  

The Queen's Christmas Speech 

Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace making her Christmas Queen's Speech

Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace making her Christmas Queen's Speech. (Image credit: Getty)

The first Queen's Speech to be televised was in 1957, which also marked the 25th anniversary of the first Christmas Broadcast on the radio. The historical television broadcast was made live from the Long Library at Sandringham, Norfolk. Since then, the only Christmas Speech that The Queen missed was in 1969 when she issued a written message instead. 

Return to Coronation Street — 2021

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of Coronation Street in 2021

Queen Elizabeth II on the set of Coronation Street in 2021. (Image credit: Getty)

The Queen returned to the Coronation Street set in Manchester nearly 40 years after her original visit, this time spending 40 minutes chatting to the cast and crew and even popping into the Rovers Return. The Queen was also reunited with Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, after meeting him on her first visit to the cobbles back in 1982.

Tea with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee — 2022

Queen Elizabeth II having tea with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II having tea with Paddington Bear for the Platinum Jubilee. (Image credit: Getty)

The Queen thrilled the nation when she joined Paddington Bear for a spot of afternoon tea in a comedy sketch that was televised at the start of her Platinum Party at the Palace. Her Majesty showed her humourous side when she joined the hapless bear at Buckingham Palace, and despite Paddington not quite mastering the palace rules the pair soon bonded over their shared love of marmalade sandwiches. 

The Queen even poked fun at the decade-long mystery about what she actually kept in the many handbags that she took out with her on royal visits, joking that while Paddington might keep his marmalade sandwiches under his hat, she kept hers in her handbag. 

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace — 2022

Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony of Buckinghma Palace for the Platinum Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Platinum Jubilee. (Image credit: Getty)

One of the most iconic visions of The Queen was seeing her on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during a special occasion. Over the years crowds gathered in their thousands to see The Queen mark her coronation, her silver jubilee in 1977, her golden jubilee in 2002, her diamond jubilee in 2012 and most recently her platinum in 2022.

The Queen also made appearances on the balcony following the births of her children, when both Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother passed away, and for various royal weddings over the decades. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 


After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off


She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 


As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.