Fri 08 Apr 2016, 12:00
Pull up a throne to a season of royal programming celebrating the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen Friday 29 April - Saturday 21 May.
In honour of Her Majesty the Queen's 90th birthday on Thursday 21 April, British Entertainment channel ITV Choice (123) has scheduled a raft of exclusive and never-seen-before-in-Africa programming in April and May.
One of the highlights of the Royal Season is sure to be Cameraman to the Queen, which premieres on the channel on Saturday, April 30 at 20:00. This one-off, hour-long documentary offers a fascinating insight into the work of royal cameraman Peter Wilkinson, who has been present at the Queen's public engagements for 18 years to provide a close insight into his unique relationship with the monarch.
With special access to key Royal engagements, this programme paints a fresh portrait of the Queen as Wilkinson films her during a state visit by the Chinese president, at a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, on a visit to Essex and in Scotland on the momentous day she became the longest serving monarch in British history. The programme features footage of the Queen from Peter’s 1,800 assignments, and shows how his pictures from events like these are then beamed into millions of homes around the world.
In 1997, after the death of Princess Diana, it was decided to have a single cameraman filming the Queen to prevent the media scrums Royal engagements had become. Wilkinson's former boss at ITN Andy Tilley says: “Why Peter for that job? Partly because he was one of the best cameramen in the country. His calmness, obviously his maturity. Thirty years of work, he had nothing to prove to anyone.”
Wilkinson is with Her Majesty on the day she overtakes her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-serving monarch. To mark the occasion, she is opening a new railway line from Edinburgh to the Borders aboard a steam train. Peter gives an insight into how he works with the Queen.
He says: “Quite often I am walking backwards in front of her filming her, and she will put a little spurt on and it’s as much as I can do to keep sort of keep my couple of metres distance between her. I think she is just amazing, her stamina. I get home at the end of the day I am absolutely exhausted trying to keep up with her.”
He also reveals that the Queen sometimes likes to chat about more down-to-earth matters. He says: “Quite often she will have a chat about everyday things. I spoke to the Queen once up in Balmoral. We were waiting to do an audience and I said, ‘Your kitchen garden looks spectacular.’ She said, ‘I can’t understand, I planted some sweet peas and my gardener planted some sweet peas, and his are taller than mine and I can’t understand why.’ And I said, ‘That can’t be right ma’am, can it?’ and she just laughed at me.”
Twice a year the Queen welcomes a foreign Head of State to stay in Buckingham Palace with all the pomp and ceremony that entails. Wilkinson is there to film the visit of the President of China.
It’s his job to get exclusive pictures of the Queen and her guests arriving at the doorstep of Buckingham Palace. The variety of the job, filming events like this, is something Wilkinson says he enjoys. He says: “I never get bored. It’s something different every day. It’s not like you are filming the same people. I am filming the Queen meeting different people every day. The Queen knows me now, We get on very well and I get on very well with her team.”
Since then, he has filmed thousands of events, including those showing the Queen at testing moments, including during her Golden Jubilee year of 2002. He says: “One of the saddest occasions obviously the loss of her mother and in the same year the loss of her sister, Princess Margaret. When she met people laying flowers for her mother she said, ‘Yes it is very sad, but my mama had a wonderful long, long happy life.’”
Wilkinson was alongside The Queen when she shared the nation’s grief after the London 7/7 bombings in 2005. He says: “The next morning I went off with the Queen and we met some of the survivors and that was pretty moving stuff. There is no point in The Queen getting distressed with people because that wouldn’t help anyone. But she has great compassion for people.”