Lurking in the endless reels of footage of the monarch is a clear capacity for both joy and sadness.

Throughout her long reign, our beloved Queen has been inscrutable. It is almost impossible to tell what she really thinks or feels about anything. She has never given an interview to the press.

‘The royal default position is to be judiciously cautious,’ says royal biographer Robert Hardman. Which makes it all the more thrilling when a camera catches her, accidentally or otherwise, in a candid moment. Here, as we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, is our pick of the Queen’s best moments on camera.

Main image: Ross Dunn, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Queen’s First Speech

In 1940, aged 14, Princess Elizabeth made her first speech on the radio. Her high-pitched tone, recorded at Windsor Castle, and sweet sentiment captured the hearts of a global public who’d never heard her voice before. Listening now, she seems calm and composed, sure, but also jolly and jaunty. Watch it here.

The Princess Weds

We are led to believe that the Queen adored Prince Philip from the moment she met him as a shy teenager. When she married him at Westminster Abbey in November, 1947, aged 21, it was a true love match. Though the service is solemn and formal, the princess’s elation is palpable. Her smiles down the aisle and later on the balcony of Buckingham Palace put a spring in your step. Watch it here.

At The Races With A Winning Horse

This charming Pathe footage, filmed in 1949, before she came to throne, shows Princess Elizabeth at her very happiest. Check out the full-blooded laughter. She is wreathed in smiles before the race and then, tense as you like, has her binoculars trained on her horse for the duration. Watch it here.

Riding With The Grandkids

Watching the monarch in grandma mode is an utter joy. The pleasure she takes in the rabble of her two York grandchildren, Prince William, her dog and a pony seems so very cosy and normal. A York, atop a horse, comments proudly on her red boots. Granny thinks they’re very smart. Somebody steps on the Queen’s toe. One grandchild even dares to whinge. What does the Queen do? She takes it all in her stride, of course. Watch it here.

Address To The Nation After Diana’s Death

The Queen was heavily criticized for not coming down from Scotland or speaking to the nation sooner after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Her live broadcast, when it came, was everything we needed. Speaking as a grandmother, she tugged hard at our heart strings. A shiver goes down one’s spine as she describes how the family had been doing its very best to help the boys at Balmoral in the week since their mother’s death. Watch it here.

Golden Wedding Anniversary Speech

Such is her majesty’s reticence to speak about herself that she is actually not at her most articulate in this clip. But the words she uses speak volumes. She describes her husband, on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary, as her ‘strength and stay all these years’ and says that she owes ‘him a debt greater than he would ever claim and we will ever know’. Watch it here.

Hanging With James Bond

The Queen’s cameo appearance in a spoof James Bond video for the London Olympics in 2012 was priceless. It felt surreal. Never in a million years would we have thought it was the kind of thing she might do. But then again… what do we know of the plucky old bird? She is a dude, that’s for sure. Watch it here.

Before It All Went Wrong

When the Queen was introduced to Harry and Meghan’s baby Archie, her smile was irrepressible. Things may have gone south with the Sussexes since then but it’s good to know the good times rolled at one point. Watch it here.

Alone At Prince Philip’s Funeral, 2021

There she was in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, for the funeral of her husband of 73 years and – because the world was in the grip of a global pandemic – she had to sit alone at the end of a pew. Her stoicism in this clip is almost more than the human heart can bear. Watch it here.

As You’ve Never Seen Her

This heavenly montage, put together to a soundtrack of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun, shows us just how ready that royal smile is when nobody is looking. Watch it here.

By Becky Ladenburg
May 2022

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.