To celebrate her Jubilee in 2022, and to open the concert taking place there, Queen Elizabeth II lent herself to comedy for the duration of a sketch. Opposite her was another British star: Paddington Bear. It was a moment the writer of the talking bear films will never forget.
Elizabeth II had no shortage of humour. The mother of Charles III, who sat on the throne of England for seventy years, was renowned for her standing and class. But in private, those close to her knew her to be a joker, with a very British sense of humour! Imitating the accents of her kingdom and never afraid to use humour to lighten situations, Queen Elizabeth II had a hidden side that was only revealed on rare occasions. One such occasion was during her Jubilee in 2022, when the monarch appeared before her subjects drinking tea with Paddington.
A famous fictional character in the UK, the marmalade-loving bear has been brought to the screen by Simon Farnaby, screenwriter of the two feature films released in 2014 and 2017 directed by Paul King. Inspired by Michael Bond’s character, Paddington was a special guest at the anniversary of Europe’s longest reign.
In a sketch filmed in one day, Jubilee audiences were treated to Elizabeth II and Paddington discussing their love of orange jam, while revealing a secret to each other: where their emergency sandwich is hidden. A discussion that Simon Farnaby witnessed. “It was a very special thing to be a part of. It’s part of history and it was great to be there. I was in the same room. It was a whole day. I went up to her and said: ‘Madam, that was fantastic. You’re a very good actress’,” he told The Express. To which the Queen replied, “Well, I do it all the time.”
I thought she was giving me a scoop
Impressed by her response, the writer was convinced she was giving him the scoop on her role as monarch. “Oh, you mean play the Queen?” he said, before she retorted, “I beg your pardon?” A misunderstanding that gave the filmmaker a fright: “I lost all confidence in myself then. I thought she was giving me a scoop, as if it were a role.”
But apart from this incident, Simon Farnaby remembers above all the Queen’s patience, welcoming criticism to improve her acting. “The headmaster would come in and say, ‘Ma’am, could you be a bit gentler?’ And she was so kind that she would say, ‘I’m so sorry, yes of course.'” In the end, it was thanks to her grandchildren that Elizabeth II grasped the significance of her character. The director asked her to speak as if to her grandchildren. Simon Farnaby recalls, “It was really sweet and really adorable.”
Photo credits: Backgrid UK/ Bestimage