Royal documentaries are frequently on the tele.

I'm not suggesting they're ho-hum. Well, maybe, for the not-so-ardent royal watchers that is.

This eight-part series, Elizabeth,' currently screening on Prime is exceptional in some of its emotive footage shows the Queen not entirely adhering to that British Royal stiff upper lip.

I was very moved by footage of the Welsh Aberfan disaster, a catastrophic collapse of a colliery tip on October 21, 1966, where weeks of heavy rain meant a build-up of water had caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry. It engulfed a local school killing 116 children and 28 adults.


The disaster seared the psyche of everyone throughout Britain not least of all Queen Elizabeth who we were told struggled with whether she should go directly to Aberfan or not.

She decided not to go for eight days because she thought her royal presence would distract rather than aid the stricken village and what could she possibly say at a time like that anyway.

A clip of a man a young medical student at the time and part of the rescue effort was chilling.

I caught my breath as he said that what he saw after being lowered through a dug-out tunnel had remained with him his whole life.

He shuddered as he said the sight of dead children still sitting at their desks and their teacher standing before them arms out as if to save them was horrifying and still is.

Eight days after the disaster the Queen visited the village.

When a small sad girl stepped forward with a tiny bunch of flowers that stiff upper Royal lip trembled and the Queen wept.

We were told she had decided she would never wait like that again. She had already put royal etiquette aside the year before at Sir Winston Churchill's state funeral.

She had arrived before Churchill's family and before the wartime leader's coffin was in the church.

This documentary is very much about how Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, is determined to move with the times even though she was neither born nor educated to take on the role the documentary says.

And how at age of 21 she broadcast to the people of Britain and the Commonwealth that "My whole life shall be devoted to your service".

We are watching the build-up of a uniquely personal picture of Elizabeth, the woman, wife and mother. It is wonderful viewing.

- Review by Lin Ferguson