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This DVD, released by the South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) and narrated by former BBC Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond, features many Royal visits to the South West of England. Much of the material is from the Television South West (TSW) and Westward Television archives and some is from private collections donated to SWFTA over the years by amateur cinematographers.
Amongst the many highlights is the opening of the Tamar Bridge by the Queen Mother in April 1962. The bridge not only provided a vital road link between Devon and Cornwall but created a new and iconic landmark for the region.
Dartmouth has probably had more than its fair share of Royal visitors, partly as so many royals have done their initial officer training at the Britannia Royal Naval College. Past cadets have included Kings George V and George VI, and Princes Charles, Andrew and William. And it’s also said that the Duke of Edinburgh first caught a glimpse of his future wife whilst at Dartmouth. The film features one of the Queen Mother’s visits in 1969.
The Royal Family has always turned out in times of triumph and tragedy, to perform ceremonial duties and openings, and sometimes to have fun. The archive reveals many jaunty hats worn by Princess Margaret, plus an unusual visit that she and her husband, Lord Snowdon, made to the region in the early sixties, taking in a roller coaster ride at Butlins in Minehead. Princess Margaret’s well known love of the theatre made her the obvious choice to open Plymouth’s Theatre Royal in 1982. The film shows her meeting household names at the time such as comic actor Leonard Rossiter, singers Gene Pitney and Iris Williams and entertainer Dickie Henderson.
One of the film’s highlights is the Royal Maundy ceremony at Exeter Cathedral in 1983 which features commentary by popular TSW personality David Rodgers who presented a special outside broadcast. A more extraordinary ceremony took place at Launceston Castle where in 1973 Prince Charles was proclaimed Duke of Cornwall. For his pains, he received a very odd array of gifts including a bow, a salmon spear, white gloves, a pair of greyhounds and a pound of pepper and cumin.
Events during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year in 1977 are also included. On one magical day in August, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Newton Abbot and Exeter, took in a special Drake exhibition at Plymouth Civic Centre and watched a magnificent parade of the armed forces on the Hoe. The Royal party then boarded a barge that took them out to the Royal Yacht Britannia, anchored by Plymouth breakwater. A massive flotilla of boats accompanied her, crowds on board, waving and cheering.
Princess Diana is not forgotten either. Her visit to Tavistock in 1983 drew enormous crowds. Yet another memorable Royal day for Devon.
NB: This title is not produced by the Media Archive for Central England.
Produced by The South West Film and Television Archive, a registered charity dedicated to preserving and providing access to the moving image heritage of the South West of England. For more information contact Jennie Constable – 01752 202650 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Duration: 55 Minutes