Monday, May 20, 2013

DVD Review: The Royal Collection

The Royal Collection 4-DVD Set  (Main Feature: 467 min)
Released by BBC Home Entertainment on May 21, 2013. SRP $24.99 (DVD)
Subtitles: English SDH 16:9 Stereo

I think I have more than a passing interest in the Royal family. No, I don’t have a ton of collector plates around my house with pictures of Queen Elizabeth II on it nor did I tune into Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s wedding but I have to admit I enjoy a good documentary on the Royal family if I can find one. I have been watching this type of documentary for a number of years but wasn’t sure what I would get with this new set.
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This is an interesting title to release as I would have thought something like this would have been more appropriate last year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but I have to say that this is a very welcome title. The Royal Collection is a collection of BBC documentaries made over the last few years and it is broken across four discs. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy, Queen Victoria’s Children, and How To Be a Prince.  One thing that immediately grabbed my attention was that the price is very reasonable for 4 DVDs. It reminds me of those DVD sets you buy in Walmart that has something like 12 discs for $20 but the difference here is that it is released by a very reputable organization and the documentaries are made by the BBC which is one of the best documentary makers in the world plus who would know British royalty better than the BBC? Here is a breakdown of what you get on the set.

Queen Victoria’s Children 180 min
I will go through this set  in chronological order. This documentary is broken up into 3 parts: Best Laid Plans, A Domestic Tyrant, Princes Will Be Princes. We start out with the arranged marriage between Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria had a rapturous appetite for intimacy and because of it had 9 children. The documentary tells us how cold Queen Victoria could be to her children but how hands on Albert was towards them.

One thing I didn’t know was that not only was Prince Albert very involved with his children’s upbringing but he was ridiculously strict with them, especially the boys. It makes for an interesting story about how the children were raised but it still didn’t stop some of the children from having a scandalous life of their own. Especially as one of the scandalous children was none other than the heir to the thrown Edward VII.
King George and Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued The Monarchy 116 min

This is a very interesting program. It is broken up in two parts: King George V and Queen Mary. It is a great look at their lives and how they brought up their children. A big part of what George needed to do was to bring the monarchy back to have moral values than it did while Edward VII was on the throne but that was just a small part of what King George needed to accomplish.
What surprised me was that I never really thought how World War I really decimated the royal landscape in Europe. Up until then, Royalty in Europe would marry royalty in Europe. Once World War I broke out that would change. Kaiser Wilhelm II was cousins to both George V and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The UK Royal Family was face with a real problem. King George was afraid that the people of England would turn on him and his monarchy since there is German in them. The Royal Family changed a lot about themselves including changing the name of the royal house from House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor which is more British sounding.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 50 min
This is the shortest of the documentaries but I think it is the best. It may be worth the entire price of the set by itself. It talks about the coronation but it is incredibly in-depth. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Maids of Honors who were in the ceremony. There is a lot of background information. It really goes into detail of how engaged Queen Elizabeth II was in being a part of the coronation and how uninvolved the Duke of Edinburgh sometime was during the planning of this event.

It covers a ton of stuff that is really interesting including the way rows of bleachers were built into Westminster Abbey to accommodate all of the people who needed to be there. One of my favorite moments was when one of the Maids of Honors were talking about how Queen Elizabeth II would watch someone else at rehearsals for the coronation to play Queen so she could see how she might look and there are pictures to back that up! This is one I will easily go back to again and again.
How To Be A Prince 116 min

Produced in 2003, this documentary focuses on Prince William turning 21. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this one because the subject matter isn’t really that interesting to me but I was wrong. It doesn’t just cover Prince William but also looks back at other Princes such as Charles. Not only was it interesting but it gave me a lot more respect for Prince William. He was not just a playboy who travels the world but has done a lot of good thing and has gone on some great goodwill missions to underprivileged countries.
Over the course of two episodes it looks at the upbringing of the Prince and then in the second episode asks the question about how will the prince help the monarchy of the future. I was surprised to see a young Piers Morgan, now at CNN, interviewed. It seems like most people interviewed agreed that if William has to wait until 50 to become king, there will be no monarchy.

I think the packaging for this is really quite good. Each documentary is in its own amary case and all housed in a sleek red box that is tastefully designed. Each of these DVD is available separately but when this collection is bought, it also includes a replica of a booklet for Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, featuring original photography from the ceremony. It is a really nice and sturdy book that is 32 pages and is a reproduction of the photographs and print. I think it’s a wonderful extra for this set.

I am really happy with this 4-disc set. It has amazing documentaries that I plan to watch more than once and the nice replica book of the coronation. The price is right and it is all produced by the BBC which is really good enough for me. If you have an interest in the Royal Family, the price is right, why not check it out?
Next review: Up on deck for reviews: Blu ray release of Series 1-5 of George Gently released by Acorn Media plus some Doctor Who Blu Rays: The Snowmen and Series 7 Part 2.

Have a great week!
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