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The Queen's Castle

We no longer stock this DVD but copies are sometimes available on Ebay.

This review appears by way of record only.

Five hours - double DVD set - plus over two hours of extras footage in addition to the three original BBC programmes first broadcast in March 2005.

First programme: The Banquet
Originally Broadcast on Sunday 27 March, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm  60mins

Second programme: Four Seasons
Originally Broadcast on Sunday 3 Apr, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm  60mins

Third programme: The Ranger
Originally Broadcast on Sunday 10 Apr, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm  60mins

As a Windsorian born and bred, the view of Windsor Castle above the town has always meant a great deal, such that on the fearsome occasion in 1992 when we watched the red glow above the castle and the flames leaping high into the sky from the Brunswick Tower, it was hard to believe that our much loved castle would or could ever be the same again.
    In many ways the castle is not the same as it was, but with the great skills that were assembled for its restoration, it is arguable that the castle is now even better than it was before, with a number of new and imaginative features added, not least the Lantern Lobby that has transformed a rather dark and dimly lit area into a masterpiece of light oak.
    The BBC's new series about life in the castle is, in short, fascinating. It is a source of great pride that perhaps the most famous castle in the world continues to maintain the high standards and attention to detail with which it has been associated for so long. It is this attention to detail that was so much to the fore in the first of these programmes as it concentrated on the events and plans surrounding the visit of President Jacques Chirac of France on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 'Entente Cordiale' between the UK and France, originally signed on April 8, 1904.
    The high-point of the visit was the State Banquet laid on in the St George's Hall followed by a concert performance of selections from Les Miserables in the Waterloo Chamber. For some reason that for the moment escapes me, the Waterloo Chamber was renamed the Music Room for the night, though I think it fooled no-one, especially not the French President, although he may well have smiled at this additional attention to detail.
    We saw the meticulous attention to detail as it applied to the laying out of the great dining table with almost 150 place settings, the French polisher walking its length, standing on the table with his British Airways flight slippers on, ensuring the perfection of the polished surface. We saw the perfect alignment of the chairs, and the care taken over the seating plan and we were shown the Housekeeper's staff practising their skills in unpacking and repacking a guest's suitcase, carefully taking notes of every item and its location, though I do hope that all guests were advised that their packing would be so scrutinised by the castle staff upon their arrival!
    With such care and attention to every aspect of the preparations it is a shame that President Chirac didn't take equal care over his arrival time. With stop-watch precision required, President Chirac arrived, we are told, thirty minutes late. Even the Queen plays her part in this precision, understanding its importance in achieving a faultless event. The Queen always takes a close interest in, and comments constructively upon, much of the preparation herself. This is no wonder for she has very many years experience of such thing, Princess and Queen, so it was no surprise to hear HM herself proposing that the Thames Valley Hospice here in Windsor should be given the flowers from the banquet immediately after they were no longer required at the castle.
    At this point I should point out for the benefit of those with Republican tendencies that this banquet was a state affair and therefore paid for by the Foreign Office and was an important step in trying to renew amicable relations following the French refusal to back the recent war in Iraq. Here is a perfect example of how the Queen in her 'apolitical' rôle can play an important part in restoring relations with other countries that no politician could so readily achieve. And as to cost, were any Presidential banquets ever held on the cheap???
    The second episode covers Easter and the Royal Family's stay at Windsor from where all royal business is conducted rather than from Buckingham Palace. The programme takes a look at the Queen's horses, both those she rides, and those used for ceremonial purposes, and features Terry Pendry, the Stud Groom, as he trains two Windsor Greys. One of the oldest and grandest of ceremonies, the Garter Procession and Service, is also featured.
    The final programme features a guided tour of various areas in the Great Park with The Duke of Edinburgh, The Chief Ranger, acting as guide. The Duke takes a keen interest in Windsor Great Park and its history as well as its care and maintenance, understanding as he does that a very long term view must be taken, often 100 years and more, when it comes to tree planting and conservation.

What a feast these programmes are!

The Royal Windsor Horse Show 2002

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