DVD Review: The Diamond Queen

The Diamond Queen DVD boxSTUDIO: BBC/Warner | DIRECTOR: Sally Norris | NARRATOR: Andrew Marr
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 5/29/2012 | PRICE: DVD $19.98
BONUSES: Commemorative Archive Montage
SPECS: Not Rated, nothing objectionable | 174 min. | Documentary | 16×9 widescreen | Stereo audio | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): TV show | Audio | Video | Overall

The Diamond QueenFilmed over a year and a half, the three-part documentary The Diamond Queen examines the life and 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II as only the BBC can.

The series is written and narratored with enthusiasm and respect by Andrew Marr, who also wrote a companion book, and it is obvious he has compassion for his subject.

Queen Elizabeth II is only the second British monarch to reach a Diamond Jubilee, the first being Queen Victoria who reached 60 years on the British throne when she was 72, younger than Queen Elizabeth II. And the monarch and her country have changed a lot during her reign, perhaps more so than any other Head of State. She has also faced much criticism, and all that is covered in this documentary.

Footage is shown of her as a toddler, when George V, her grandfather, passed away and her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne and put her on the path to being crowned. When her father, George VI, died in 1952, Elizabeth was only 25. Fans of the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech will enjoy seeing footage of the real King George VI and his wife the Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

Queen Elizabeth’s coronation two years later was a source of pride for England, which had been undergoing a lot of troubles. Her coronation was the first to be televised, and television became a big part of her reign, with her and her husband Philip even allowing cameras into their home for a documentary when their children were young.

Marr covers all this, as well as the question of whether the monarchy is still relevant in today’s age. Politicians and others agree that the ambassador duties the Queen provides to other countries supports and helps build relationships that are invaluable to Britain and perhaps would not be as good if it weren’t for the Queen’s actions.

While generally positive, the television series does not shy away from the difficult times of her reign, including the death of Lady Diana and how the Queen dealt with the balance of family loss and public duty. Despite the criticisms that abounded in the press at the time, Marr shows a different side of the Queen’s relationship with Diana, showing the Queen’s early protective feelings toward her daughter-in-law. After the press began to hound Diana, the Queen reportedly invited a number of reporters to Buckingham Palace and surprised them with a spirited demand that they be more responsible in their handlings with Diana.

We learn that that Queen is very protective over her family and at the same time, demands that they live up to their roles as part of the royal family — a role that puts the country first. Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and plenty of other members of the royal family are shown in interviews. Prince William even talks about the Queen’s involvement with his wedding, from the enormous guest list to the type of uniform he would wear walking down the aisle.

The Diamond Queen also includes interviews with plenty of non-royals, from Commonwealth Prime Ministers, to reporters, and others. Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major recalls his family scraping together enough money to buy a small black-and-white television so they could watch the Queen’s coronation.

Also on the DVD is a Commemorative Archive Montage, that blends photographs with quotes from speeches.

A fitting celebration of Queen Elizabeth II, The Diamond Queen is a positive but not one-sided documentary that will likely give most viewers information they haven’t seen before, including the Queen’s involvement in everything from place settings at formal dinners.

The BBC also released the documentary series The Queen’s Palaces on DVD timed to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. In it, Antiques Roadshow’s Fiona Bruce looks at the stories behind the creation of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and the DVD contains an exclusive introduction by Prince Charles.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.