A Right Royal Knees Up Reel History of Britain


A Right Royal Knees Up

Archive footage telling the history of modern Britain. A look back to 1977 when a huge celebration was taking place in honour of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.


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Transcript


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Just over a century ago, the motion camera was invented

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and changed for ever the way we recall our history.

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For the first time, we could see life through the eyes of ordinary people.

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Across this series,

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we will bring these rare archive films back to life

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with the help of our vintage mobile cinema.

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We'll invite people with a story to tell

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to step on board and relive moments they thought were gone for ever.

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They'll see their relatives on screen for the first time,

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come face to face with their younger selves,

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and celebrate our amazing 20th-century past.

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This is the people's story.

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Our story.

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Our vintage mobile cinema was originally commissioned in 1967

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to show training films to workers.

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It's been lovingly restored and loaded with remarkable film footage

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preserved for us by the British Film Institute

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and other national and regional film archives.

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We'll be travelling to towns and cities across the country

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and showing films from the 20th century

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that give us the Reel History Of Britain.

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Today, we're pulling up in the 1970s...

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..to hear stories about a time

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when Britain was enjoying a right royal fling

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in order of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

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We're in Countesthorpe in Leicestershire,

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and in places like this all over the country,

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people were determined to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

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Coming up - precious memories captured on camera.

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It's much more emotional than sitting holding a photograph in your hand.

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Royal biographer Hugo Vickers reveals how he helped

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to get the party started.

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One of the things they did was to give £1,000 to every borough

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and say, "Use it as you will for celebrations."

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And a former beauty queen comes face to face with her younger self.

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You feel like a film star.

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You're never going to be a film star but that's how you feel.

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Today, we've come to Countesthorpe in Leicestershire,

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which celebrated the Silver Jubilee in style.

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This village was like many communities across the country

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that pulled out all the stops for a right royal celebration.

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The Queen was only 25 when she came to the throne

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and she quickly became one of our most popular monarchs.

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So it wasn't surprising that a year of festivities took place

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to mark her Jubilee in 1977.

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# Here we are and here we are

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# And here we go... #

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Did you know the Queen was having a meal today?

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What do you think she's been having to eat?

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The same as what we're having - turkey.

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But the booming Britain she reigned over when she came to the throne

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in the 1950s had changed radically by the 1970s.

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Economic problems and political unrest prevailed.

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Yet it didn't stop most people going Union Jack crazy.

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How do you know the flag is the right way up?

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Ah, well, this could be a problem.

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Jubilee Day on 7th June was one big national party,

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to which everyone was invited.

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And we'll be talking to some of those people today.

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Joining me are guests from across the UK,

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all of whom have special memories of that Jubilee year of 1977.

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Many of them will be seeing their younger selves on screen,

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telling us how they celebrated and showing us souvenirs

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of this Royal occasion.

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It wasn't just the Queen who made the headlines on 7th June 1977.

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Childhood best friends Jane Taylor and Linda Leake, from Derbyshire,

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were actually there on the day.

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They camped out overnight outside St Paul's Cathedral

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and made the headline news.

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To go to London for the day was magnificent. We camped out overnight.

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-You were 14 years old.

-14 and 15, yes.

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And this is how we got on.

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On the front page of a national newspaper.

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-And that's you two?

-That's us two, yes.

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"Linda Knight, left, and Jane Hunt from Derbyshire."

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-That's us.

-It had rained all night.

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We were actually in bin liners.

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Today, we'll transport Jane and Linda back to their youth

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and remind them of the day they made the front pages.

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I'd never been to London and we set off from our small village

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that I'd never ventured far from.

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It was a really big adventure. We were one of the first to arrive.

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-We really were, weren't we?

-Yeah.

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And we chose the prime position didn't we, outside St Paul's?

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Linda is watching a special BBC programme about that day,

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when millions of people from all over the country and the world

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descended on the capital to catch a glimpse of the Queen,

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the Royal family and world leaders

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attending a thanksgiving service held at St Paul's Cathedral.

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I'd forgotten how many people were there. It brought that flooding back.

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The crowds and the sense of community.

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We do this once every 25 years!

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Yes.

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It will be really worth it to see that gold coach.

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You know, you were anticipating what was going to happen.

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Then when it did happen, it was well worth the wait.

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CHEERING

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The golden carriage seen here

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was originally built for the George III's coronation in 1760,

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but it wasn't completed in time.

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CHEERING

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It's been used for every coronation since George IV's in 1821.

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Seeing it again today reminds Linda how spellbound she was by it.

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It was magical and the coach, unless you see it in real life,

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it's hard to imagine how beautiful it really is.

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So luxurious. Fairytale, almost.

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The last time Britain celebrated a Jubilee pageant on this scale

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was for Queen Victoria's Diamond celebrations in 1897.

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There were hundreds and thousands of people but when she waved,

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you felt like she was waving at you. And I waved back.

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"The Queen's waving at me and she knows I'm here!"

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Later that day, the Queen and members of the Royal family

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attended a luncheon at the Guildhall,

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where she gave her famous salad days speech.

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This was delivered as part of over five hours of live BBC coverage.

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It's estimated that half a billion people tuned in

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on television, all over the world.

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When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people.

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Although that vow was made in my salad days,

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when I was green in judgment,

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I do not regret, nor retract, one word of it.

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APPLAUSE

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Seeing the Queen, she was a special lady

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and it brought them memories back.

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CHEERING

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It was like I was there yesterday.

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But the Queen's Silver Jubilee wasn't just a one-day event

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in the capital. During the summer of 1977,

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the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked on a large-scale tour.

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Her Majesty was determined to mark her Jubilee

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by meeting as many as possible. No other sovereign had visited

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so much of Britain in the course of just three months.

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The six Jubilee tours in the UK and Northern Ireland

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covered 36 counties.

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On the list of places to visit was County Durham.

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And one local resident made sure she was there to see the Queen.

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1977 was the first, I think, big event of my lifetime.

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Is that when you started becoming a memorabilia maniac?

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-It was.

-How many pieces have you got now?

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It's over 5,000, but I've lost count.

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You know, from bars of soap, boxes of matches, staplers, badges

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and I had this waistcoat that used to fit us once, made in 1977.

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I went on from there to be the Guinness World Record holder.

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It's crazy, isn't it?

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We're about to take Anita, the record-breaking royalist,

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back to the day it all began, on 14th July 1977.

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What memories will these films bring back for her?

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Every night you switch the news on and there she was

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at a different village or a different town.

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It was Royal fever everywhere.

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Watching her own home movie of the Queen's Royal visit to Durham

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reminds Anita of the extraordinary lengths she went to

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to get the best position.

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My dad had said to us it was pointless going,

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cos you wouldn't get anywhere near.

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The night before, we found a spot where we would like to park.

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We had a box of chalk and wrote on the road, "No parking".

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The next morning, we went there -

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there were people and cars everywhere.

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sure enough, there was the big space

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just big enough for the Vauxhall Victor! Fantastic.

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With the invention of Super 8 film in 1965,

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and the availability of cheap cameras in the '70s,

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Anita, like so many others,

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was able to record her own memories of that year -

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and here she is as a young woman of 20.

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The Queen and Prince Philip arrived.

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I was looking through my cine camera thinking,

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"Oh, no, she's gone over the other side!"

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Prince Philip came right up close to us.

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I thought, "I don't want to see you, I want to see the Queen!"

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To see the Queen in the flesh is something really special.

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It took me back to a time before I was married, before any children.

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I was a different person. But I remember that feeling of pride.

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It was an incredible year.

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These films reflect the patriotic feeling throughout the country.

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They're a visible reminder

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of how the public regarded the Queen and the Royal family.

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But not everybody was celebrating.

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MUSIC: "God Save The Queen" by The Sex Pistols

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For Republicans and punks, the Jubilee meant nothing.

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# God save the Queen

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# The fascist regime... #

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'I was absolutely annoyed to death at the punks.

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'I had members of my family who were punks,

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'but I thought they were ridiculous.

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'I thought they were disgraceful.'

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# No future... #

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The Sex Pistols were at the vanguard of dissent,

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but their own Jubilee message was rumoured to have been

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kept off the top of the charts for political reasons.

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I have never heard that record before.

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That's the first time I've heard it. I was given God Save The Queen

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by my cousin, who was a punk, and I nearly hit him with it.

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But I didn't, I kept it and it's part of my memorabilia.

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But I never listened to it.

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We've come to the village of Countesthorpe in Leicestershire

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to remember the Queen's Silver Jubilee of 1977.

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During the Jubilee celebrations, an estimated 10 million people

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attended street parties up and down the country.

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Manchester hosted almost 2,000.

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In Wales, there were around 4,000,

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but it was London that held the record

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of 5,000 street parties across the capital.

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I'm meeting the man who worked on the London celebration committee,

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the Royal biographer Hugo Vickers.

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It was a bad time, wasn't it, 1977?

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Inflation was 17%, unemployment rising,

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the IRA were very troublesome.

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Yes, and James Callaghan made it clear

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he wasn't going to spend government money

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on celebrating the Silver Jubilee,

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which is why a spontaneous committee sprung up in London

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to help get the celebrations off the ground.

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One of the things they did was to give £1,000 to every borough

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and say, "Use it as you will for celebrations."

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Some said, "We're not doing a thing." They all did in the end.

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It was quite late that people took to the idea.

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It was extraordinary. You're right.

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No-one was in the slightest bit interested in the Jubilee

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until round about April.

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But once the Queen had been travelling, it suddenly took off.

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Everybody realised they could have fun.

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Why do you think it is the Queen calls up such support

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on these great occasions?

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Because we know. We've seen the Queen

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since she was a tiny little girl with a little car going round.

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We know exactly where she's come from.

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Politicians come fully baked - They come with their own agenda.

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Her only agenda is to be pro-Britain.

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It's said that the crowds of people who turned out to see Her Majesty

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during the Silver Jubilee tour of the UK

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surprised even the Queen herself.

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But the Troubles in Northern Ireland brought a political dimension

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and some opposition to the celebrations there.

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One Belfast resident saw this as a unique opportunity

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to reach across the sectarian divide.

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Ruth Girvin organised a street party and invited people

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from both sides of the political argument to join in.

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Was there a certain tension about having street parties for the Queen

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in Northern Ireland?

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No, not where we were, anyway. But it wouldn't have mattered,

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everybody still had their street party.

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They wanted to show the Queen how much we enjoyed her

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and we wanted to celebrate with her.

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In our street, we had Catholics and Protestants.

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The lady, a Catholic lady, made jellies for our party.

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Her little girl ran in the races with us. It was good fun.

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The home movie was ubiquitous by the '70s

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and Ruth is about to watch her own home movie of the day,

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filmed by her husband John.

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How will she feel about seeing herself

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as a young mum back in the '70s?

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Oh, unbelievable. Unbelievable.

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You don't realise it's so far away

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and how different you look from then till now.

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It's great to have a film. Any sort of the movie film of yourself

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when you were younger. It really is.

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Towns and cities all over the UK

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came to a halt for one mass celebration

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and Ruth and her neighbours of Moorgate Street in East Belfast

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joined in, too.

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You think you forget the things, but once you see the film

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it all comes back to you about the day.

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It's great community spirit.

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We had great fun on the day. We had the tables set up.

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We had lots of games and music and lots of races.

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Oh, yes, I won my race. I don't know how I won it!

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I think it was fixed!

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I won the Jubilee coin and the little silver cup.

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Ruth's film didn't just capture a Royal celebration,

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it holds precious memories of her family

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before her boys Frank and John grew up

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and before her mother Frances passed away.

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It seems so much as if you can reach out and touch her and hold her again.

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It's lovely.

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I must say, the cine films do bring

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that extra closeness of people who have passed on.

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Um, yes, and she always enjoyed the children, so she did.

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But she was always in any of our street parties

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and always helped out.

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It's much more emotional than sitting holding a photograph in your hand.

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You know and... I don't know, it just keeps them alive that much longer.

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Ruth's street party was one of 125,000 parties

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held across the country.

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We've come to Countesthorpe in Leicestershire because this village

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was determined to have a good time all through the summer of '77.

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Countesthorpe held events from June to October.

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They included street processions, dressing up, gymkhana,

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fireworks, parties - on and on it went.

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Three Countesthorpe residents are here to share their memories today.

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Sylvia Salter has brought along some family photos from that year.

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-That's my daughter.

-That's me.

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Like four million other children around the country,

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Jane Measures received a Jubilee coin that was given to her

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to commemorate the year, and she's kept it to this day.

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-Is that legal tender?

-Yes.

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-I think a lot of people spent them on the day.

-Did they?

-Yes.

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Countesthorpe parish councillor David Jennings

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was involved in planning the events.

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-Pram race?

-Yes.

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-Was there a bonny baby competition?

-No, I didn't enter that!

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All three will be stepping on board and stepping back in time

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to the '70s, and one of them is about to get an unexpected surprise.

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# Jubilee

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# Are you coming to the Jubilee?

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# There'll be plenty of company

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# Cos this is Jubilee day

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# Smile... #

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The film they will watch was made by David's relative -

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another villager, Percy Lord.

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It brings back a lot of memories.

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Percy was a village lad, he was my mother's cousin.

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It's a unique record of what happened.

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We must retain it for the future generations.

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David's fundraising efforts made Countesthorpe

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the first village in Leicestershire to raise £500

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for the Jubilee events.

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And taking part was Jane Measures. She was ten at the time.

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The gala's a big event in the village.

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Everybody used to come out and see the floats.

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As well as the usual equestrian pursuits, there was whippet racing.

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And a coconut shy to keep the spectators entertained.

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There was even some monkey business.

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I have no recollection of the monkeys at all.

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I do remember the gymkhanas, because I was very into horses

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and sadly I wasn't on the proper horse at the Jubilee.

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Jane was captured on film.

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She hasn't seen the footage until this day.

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I was sitting on the little wooden horse with the dice game.

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You could get the mood of what was happening

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and it looked like it was a carefree time.

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Watching the film takes Sylvia Salter right back

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to the Jubilee day.

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It was really fascinating to see the film of Countesthorpe

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and all the different things that went on.

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The weather was so absolutely terrible that the tables

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had to be put into people's garages.

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But afterwards, we came together and had party games.

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I took part in musical chairs.

0:22:530:22:56

I can remember sitting on various gentlemen's knees!

0:22:560:23:00

Sylvia is about to get an unexpected glimpse of her father, Leslie,

0:23:040:23:08

who died 15 years ago.

0:23:080:23:10

I didn't even know anybody had been filming.

0:23:140:23:18

And there's my daddy standing there with the pram.

0:23:180:23:21

It's only a fleeting glance, really, but,

0:23:230:23:26

you know, it made me feel very emotional.

0:23:260:23:31

Just to see him smiling like that, it's absolutely wonderful.

0:23:310:23:35

-What do you think of the films?

-Wonderful.

-Very nice.

0:23:470:23:50

-They're good, aren't they?

-Yes.

0:23:500:23:52

-You kept recognising people.

-I spotted my father, you see.

0:23:520:23:55

He's not with us any more so it made me go all emotional.

0:23:550:24:01

When I see my daddy on the film. "Oh, there's Daddy!"

0:24:010:24:05

-He's my daughter's grandpa.

-I see.

0:24:050:24:07

So that's... He was with the pram and I was in the pram.

0:24:070:24:10

The Jubilee united the nation in a fantastic year of celebration

0:24:120:24:16

that went way beyond just street parties.

0:24:160:24:18

My next guest, Nicky Grossman,

0:24:190:24:20

will never forget the day she was crowned Silver Jubilee Princess

0:24:200:24:25

in her village of Edwalton in Nottinghamshire.

0:24:250:24:28

-You are the beauty queen?

-I was.

0:24:290:24:31

-Have you seen yourself being a beauty queen?

-No. I haven't.

0:24:310:24:33

-34 years ago.

-Are you looking forward to it?

-Yes, no. I don't know!

0:24:330:24:38

Nicky is about to relive her five minutes of fame, but how would

0:24:400:24:44

she feel about coming face to face with her much younger self?

0:24:440:24:48

Those shoes!

0:24:570:24:59

Initially, when I saw myself, it was just, I couldn't believe it.

0:25:060:25:10

I felt, "Where have 34 years gone?"

0:25:100:25:13

Beauty pageants were a popular pastime in the '70s.

0:25:150:25:18

The Miss World TV show pulled in over 20 million viewers.

0:25:180:25:21

So it was no surprise that villages and towns across the country

0:25:210:25:25

were crowning their own Silver Jubilee queens.

0:25:250:25:28

Nicky, like many others, had an important job to do.

0:25:280:25:32

Everything from giving speeches

0:25:320:25:34

to unveiling anything connected with the Jubilee.

0:25:340:25:37

On this Jubilee day, I, Nicola,

0:25:370:25:40

your elected Silver Jubilee Princess, invite you...

0:25:400:25:44

'I had to make a speech for the unveiling of the bench.'

0:25:440:25:47

And I remember shaking the people's hands

0:25:490:25:53

and I remember the pink dress very clearly.

0:25:530:25:57

I really didn't think it suited me.

0:25:570:26:00

So it was a big thing. You feel like a film star.

0:26:050:26:10

You're never going to be a film star, but that's how I felt.

0:26:100:26:13

I can laugh, because I'm embarrassed about what I looked like.

0:26:140:26:18

But thank you to whoever it was that took that footage,

0:26:180:26:22

because I've got something to show my four girls now.

0:26:220:26:25

That is special. It is, it's really special.

0:26:250:26:28

And from a beauty queen to a Pearly King.

0:26:390:26:43

With royalty at last.

0:26:430:26:45

George Major has been the Pearly King of Peckham since 1958.

0:26:450:26:49

He met the Queen in the year of her Silver Jubilee.

0:26:490:26:52

Have you seen this photo?

0:26:520:26:55

Well, love a duck! No, I've never seen that.

0:26:550:27:00

Pearly Kings and Queens or Pearlies as they're known,

0:27:000:27:03

were working class people

0:27:030:27:04

who dressed up in a finery of pearl buttons

0:27:040:27:07

to raise money for London's poor in the 19th century.

0:27:070:27:11

I looked down and it was the Queen in a Roller.

0:27:110:27:14

And she gave that Royal, "Come over here".

0:27:140:27:17

I'm bowing all the time.

0:27:190:27:21

You know. I goes over there.

0:27:210:27:24

I'd met her before, like, but this was something special.

0:27:240:27:28

She commanded me to go to her.

0:27:280:27:30

And when I get up to the door, the window was down.

0:27:300:27:34

And I said, "Hello, Ma'am."

0:27:340:27:36

Yeah!

0:27:360:27:38

Yeah. The Queen was there and the Duke's there.

0:27:380:27:42

-There they are. There it is.

-Yes. There it is.

0:27:420:27:46

Young there and good-looking.

0:27:460:27:47

Well, to be honest with you, I still am. You know what I mean?

0:27:470:27:50

You haven't changed since then.

0:27:500:27:52

So many people remember that time with such enthusiasm now.

0:27:580:28:02

The Queen, she brings together people to celebrate her,

0:28:020:28:07

to celebrate themselves,

0:28:070:28:08

and just to celebrate, as a community.

0:28:080:28:12

That's what happens on days like these.

0:28:120:28:15

Next time on Reel History, we're in Kent,

0:28:190:28:22

reliving rural life in the '30s.

0:28:220:28:24

I can sow seeds against anyone

0:28:240:28:26

and I can sow ten acres of land with ten pints of seed.

0:28:260:28:29

It was jolly hard work and when machinery made it easier,

0:28:290:28:35

I think everybody was jolly pleased.

0:28:350:28:38

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:550:28:58

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:580:29:01

Melvyn Bragg, accompanied by a vintage mobile cinema, travels across the country, to show incredible footage preserved by the British Film Institute and other national and regional film archives, and tell the history of modern Britain.

This episode comes from Countesthorpe in Leicestershire and looks back to 1977 when a right royal knees-up was taking place all around the country in honour of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

Jayne Taylor and Linda Leeke relive the day they travelled to London and made the headlines, royal biographer Hugo Vickers reveals how he helped to get the party started and former beauty-queen Nicky Grossman comes face to face with her younger self.


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