The 1969 Documentary On The Royal Family That Caused A Water Shortage

Samuel Reason - November 19th, 2019

In 1969 there was an attempt by the Royal Family in Great Britain to make a documentary with the idea to humanize Queen Elizabeth II and her family. The results were very mixed, but one thing is for sure, millions tuned in to watch the show. And this is confirmed by the documentary actually indirectly causing a nationwide water shortage.

history.com

The documentary showed a British family sitting around the breakfast table, eating breakfast like any family would, with their middle-aged parents very formally dressed and no single hair out of place. The mother tells a funny story about her great-great-grandmother in a high pitched voice, while everyone listens without really cracking a smile or laughter.

Because it is no ordinary English family, it is the Royal Family and the storyteller is Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, the subject of her tale is Queen Victoria, it was the first scene of a 105-minute long color documentary with one title Royal Family. The famous show was broadcasted throughout England on June 21, 1969.

The concept was to soften the royal image and also to modernize them, however, the royal family including the Queen was not very onboard with the idea from the start. And apparently after its release, Buckingham Palace made sure that the film’s circulation was greatly hindered. The Queen was apparently critical that it was so long, a two-hour documentary, but the director Dick Cawston convinced her that it was the perfect length.

And the British public was indeed very intrigued, over 30 million viewers tuned into its premier. Which actually was a major issue! Because during the intermission, so many toilets were flushed all over London that there was a water shortage.

Many put this documentary as a major turning point for the royal family, the public was amazed to hear the Queen speak spontaneously and see her in a domestic setting. Many considered it to have lifted the veil on the family, but most likely nobody thought it would cause a water shortage.

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