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Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen — everything we know about the new documentary for the Jubilee

A beaming Princess Elizabeth shows off her new engagement ring soon after Prince Philip’s marriage proposal at Balmoral in 1946 taken from the upcoming BBC documentary, 'Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen'
Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen: the then Princess Elizabeth gazing down at her engagement ring. (Image credit: BBC)

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen is a special documentary that will see Queen Elizabeth II narrating and telling viewers her story in her own words.

This documentary will accompany a number of programmes that are being broadcast to mark the special occasion, including Mary Berry's The Jubilee Pudding: 70 Years in the Baking and The Queen: 70 Glorious Years which features a lineup of stars and celebrities.

To bring the documentary to life, the BBC was granted special access to hundreds of private home movies shot by the Royal Family, including clips of a young Princess Elizabeth smiling at her engagement ring, that have previously never been seen by the public.

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth with their beloved father King George VI onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947 taken from the upcoming BBC documentary, 'Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen'

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth with their beloved father King George VI onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947. (Image credit: BBC)

Simon Young, the BBC's commissioning editor for history, said he was honoured that the Queen "entrusted the BBC with such unprecedented access" to her personal film collection.

He added: "This documentary is an extraordinary glimpse into a deeply personal side of the Royal Family that is rarely seen, and it's wonderful to be able to share it with the nation as we mark her Platinum Jubilee."

Here's everything you need to know about the documentary...

Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen air date

The 75-minute documentary will debut on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday, 29 May, ahead of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebration, which takes place from June 2 - June 5.

What should we know about Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen?

To bring the documentary to life, BBC Studios has reviewed more than 400 reels of film, privately held by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute, and discovered lost newsreel given to The Queen and behind the scene recordings of state events.

In addition to this, filmmakers also listened to over three hundred of the Queen's speeches across 80 years to give an in-depth portrait of her life, with footage including significant moments in the Queen's life from being pushed in a pram by her mother to her coronation at the age of 27 in 1953.

Claire Popplewell, creative director for BBC Studio Events Productions, spoke about the documentary and added "As programme-makers who have previously worked closely with the Royal Household on ceremonial and celebratory broadcast events and programmes, the production team were under no illusion quite how special having access to this very personal archive was.

"Being able to draw upon the self-recorded history of a young Princess Elizabeth and her wider family - and allowing the Queen to tell us her own story - is the very heart of this film."

A 20-year-old Princess Elizabeth enjoying a visit to South Africa in 1947 from the forthcoming BBC documentary, 'Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen'

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to South Africa. (Image credit: BBC)

Is there a trailer?

No, the BBC has not released a trailer for the documentary so you'll have to tune in when it airs later this month.

Lucy Buglass
Lucy Buglass

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2016 with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.


She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story and Black Mirror, but recently she's loving everything about Apple TV's Severance