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Queen visits BFI; Royal Collection to be digitised

The Queen, alongside an invited audience of members from the British film industry, watched a screening of rare works from the BFI National Archive, which has looked after the Royal Collection since the late 1960s.

Upon the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the BFI Southbank on Thursday (25), it was confirmed that the BFI will work with the BBC to digitise the Royal Collection of films.

The Royal Collection includes a mixture of films presented to the Royal Household including newsreels and private family films dating back to the 1920s.

The Queen visited the site as part of her own Jubilee year, also marking 60 years of the BFI’s first permanent cinema on London’s South Bank - the National Film Theatre (NFT), which was inaugurated on Oct 23, 1952.

The Queen, alongside an invited audience of members from the British film industry, watched a screening of rare works from the BFI National Archive, including home movies showing the Queen with an infant Prince Charles.

Robin Baker, head curator of the BFI National Archive, gave a presentation about the BFI’s work to restore early Hitchcock Films. Before the Queen’s arrival, guests watched a restored 3D film, Royal Review, shot during her Coronation year.

The Queen was presented with a photograph of herself and Princess Margaret on a visit to the set at Ealing Studios in 1946 of Nicholas Nickleby, along with an original poster of the film.

At the end of her visit she unveiled a plaque at the BFI Southbank.

She met with British filmmakers including Tom Hooper and Richard Ayoade.

Greg Dyke, BFI Chair, told the Queen and assembled guests: “Given that the moving image wasn’t invented until the end of the 19th century I find it extraordinary to think that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for more than half the time that film has been in existence. 

“When we built BFI Southbank, it was a temporary structure in a less than ideal location under Waterloo Bridge.  Who could have predicted then that, 60 years on, film would become one of the world’s greatest and most accessible art forms, supporting a huge industry. And no one would have predicted we’d still be under the bridge!

“We need to build on success. And today’s visit from The Queen represents a milestone where we look towards the time when we can build a new Film Centre here on the Southbank that has the scale and magnitude worthy of representing the British film industry.”

The BFI has long been calling for a larger new home on the Southbank.

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