He served with distinction in the Royal Navy and was mentioned in dispatches, but a humble lilo proved to be Prince Philip’s downfall.
This extraordinary footage and pictures are taken from candid home movie videos – never seen in public before – of the young Queen and her husband off duty at Christmas in 1953.
It was shot by Patricia Norrie, the wife of the then Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Willoughby Norrie, who was hosting the couple on the local leg of a gruelling seven-month Commonwealth tour.
It now features along with footage of the Queen smiling in a fascinating documentary, The Queen Unseen, to be shown tonight on ITV1 at 9pm, marking the monarch’s 95th birthday later this month.
The video also sees the Duke of Edinburgh pulling the Norries’ daughter, ten-year-old Sarah Stephenson, along on the lilo – who narrates what happens in a trailer for the programme.
The trip had proved a gruelling one for the young monarch, who had been crowned earlier in the year, and she and Philip were said to have relished the chance for a little downtime.
According to Ms Stevenson, it was ‘terribly exciting’ to have the royal party staying at their home and the royals mucked in with the rest of the family.
In a 30-second preview clip released this morning, narrated by Mrs Stevenson, she said: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh is trying to get on this lilo, and he has to have several attempts.
A young Queen filming with a Cine Camera at an outdoor swimming pool on Christmas Day 1953. Taking a break from the gruelling seven-month Commonwealth tour, she and Philip stayed with New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie
The young Queen films with a Cine camera at a private house, as a guest of the Governor General of New Zealand. She spent much of the visit in December 1953 filming with her beloved 16mm cine camera, enjoying being behind the lens for a change
The Queen with Prince Andrew as a baby at Balmoral in 1960. Andrew is pictured aged seven months old in one of the first pictures in colour taken of the young prince. With the arrival of her third child, the Queen spent more time with her family
The Duke of Edinburgh struggles to climb onto a lilo in the pool on Christmas Day 1953 as part of rare and unseen private home movie which gives a glimpse of Philip and the young Queen off duty while staying in New Zealand
The Queen rides with President Tito in Belgrade in 1972. This picture shows a light-hearted moment for them during what was her first visit to a communist country in 1972. During her stay, informal footage captured them in off guard moments
The Queen and Prince Philip take a traditional sleigh ride during their Canadian Tour in 1951. Filmed in colour for a movie called Royal Journey, it was the first colour feature film made in Canada. Rushes had to be flown to New York to be developed
A young Queen with horses while on a Canadian Tour in 1951. The Queen and Prince Philip took a traditional sleigh ride filmed in colour for a movie called Royal Journey, which was the first colour feature film made in the country
The Queen joins the family at the outdoor swimming pool, with the Duke of Edinburgh in swimming trunks and New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie, standing alongside them on Christmas Day 1953
The Duke of Edinburgh struggles to climb onto a lilo in the pool on Christmas Day 1953, in a rare and unseen private home movie which was filmed by the wife of New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie, whom they were staying with
Prince Philip struggles to climb onto a lilo in the pool on Christmas Day 1953. The film was shot by Patricia Norrie, the wife of the then Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Willoughby Norrie, who was hosting the couple on the local leg of the tour
A young Queen joins the family at the outdoor swimming pool on Christmas Day 1953. The rare and unseen private home movie gives get a glimpse of the young Queen and her husband Philip off duty – and it is due to air on ITV at 9pm tonight
‘The royal couple knew that we were filming, and they didn’t seem to mind that we were. And the Queen also had an identical camera to my mother. She was also taking similar shots.
‘That was the Queen’s smile, which my mum very cleverly caught. Great fun, we loved it.’
How Army officer Sir Willoughby Norrie led with distinction and once caught a 2,225lb shark
Sir Willoughby Norrie
Sir Willoughby Norrie was an Army officer and general born in London in 1893 who saw active service during the First World War, winning the Military Cross in 1915 and Distinguished Service Order in 1919. He married Jocelyn Helen Gosling in 1921 but she died in 1938.
Sir Willoughby then married his second wife Patricia Merryweather Bainbridge in London in the same year and commanded the 1st Armoured Brigade when the Second World War broke out in 1939, also leading the XXX Corps in North Africa in 1941.
By 1943 he held the post of Major General, Royal Armoured Corps, but retired the following year after accepting the governorship of South Australia.
Within his first two years in Adelaide he had visited 300 schools, every local government area and mining district in his attempts to keep the ‘Empire spirit alive’.
In 1952 he left to become Governor-General of New Zealand, until 1957. He then retired and claimed his greatest achievement was catching a 2,225lb (1009kg) shark with a rod and reel off Port Lincoln.
He died in 1977 in Wantage, Oxfordshire, and was survived by his wife and their son and two daughters, and by the son and daughter of his first marriage.
Father Christmas delivered presents from them to take home to their young children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
And Sir Willoughby and his wife even gave the Queen and Philip a stocking each – containing a dog’s lead for the Queen and a blue and white Wedgwood ashtray for Philip, which caused much amusement as it had his wife’s head on it.
After lunch they went to the private pool along with the Queen equerry at the time, Johnny Spencer, later Earl Spencer and father of Princess Diana.
According to Mrs Stevenson, towering Philip – wearing tiny dark ‘budgie smuggler’ swimming shorts – tried several times to get on the lilo, but each time plunged into the pool roaring with laughter.
Always mindful of her public image, Queen didn’t join in, but happily watched her husband from the patio, her own video camera in hand, comfortable to film and be filmed.
Mrs Stevenson said: ‘Well, it was terribly exciting to have the whole royal party staying in your home.
‘There was one time actually, when my sister and I were taking our dogs for a walk and the Queen saw us and she said she wish she could come with us.
‘Father Christmas was approaching with lots of presents for Prince Charles and Princess Anne, who were very young, they were in England, so it must have been very difficult for the Queen and the Duke to leave their children behind for such a long trip.
‘My parents gave the Queen and the Duke a Christmas stocking each, and in the Queen’s stocking there was a dog lead, and in the Duke’s stocking there was a blue and white ash tray.
‘And my father said, the Duke will be pleased because it’s got his wife’s head on it. He thought that was terribly funny.
‘This was a private pool we took the royal party to on Christmas Day. There’s my father with the Queen.’
ITV’s The Queen Unseen features a host of rare home movie footage, hoping to shed new light on our most enigmatic of monarchs.
With almost 70 years of royal globe trotting under her belt, the Queen is the country’s most experienced international statesman.
And her skills were most definitely needed when she visited Belgrade in 1972 after the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito personally asked to meet her to mark his 80th birthday.
The Duke of Edinburgh pulls 10-year-old Sarah Stephenson along on the lilo on Christmas Day 1953. Sarah was the daughter of New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie, whose wife filmed the visit by the Royal Family to the country
The Duke of Edinburgh struggles to climb onto a lilo in the water with a ten-year-old Sarah Stephenson laughing as she sits by the pool on Christmas Day 1953 while the royal couple take a break from their gruelling seven-month Commonwealth tour
The Duke of Edinburgh struggles to climb onto a lilo in the pool on Christmas Day 1953. The royal couple were staying with New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie, whose wife filmed the visit while they were off-duty
The Duke of Edinburgh struggles to climb onto a lilo in the pool on Christmas Day 1953. Sir Willougby Norrie’s daughter was ten at the time and has recalled the excitement of the Queen’s stay while on the tour of New Zealand
The Duke of Edinburgh falls into the water after struggling to climb onto a lilo in the pool in New Zealand on Christmas Day 1953. The rare and unseen private home movie forms part of a new documentary about the Queen on ITV at 9pm tonight
A young Queen filming with a Cine Camera at the outdoor swimming pool on Christmas Day 1953 during the couple’s trip to New Zealand – one of a series of stops of a seven-month tour that also took them to Jamaica, Bermuda and Australia
A young Queen filming with a Cine Camera at the swimming pool on Christmas Day 1953 in New Zealand. The royal couple stayed with New Zealand’s Governor General, Sir Willougby Norrie, whose wife filmed the visit for a home video
A young Queen with President Tito in Belgrade in 1972. The image shows a light-hearted moment for the Queen and President Tito during her first visit to a communist country. During her stay, informal footage captured them in off-guard moments
Rarely seen footage a young Queen eating an orange with President Tito during her visit to Belgrade in 1972. The Queen is rarely seen on camera eating – she very much disapproves of that – but happily tucked into the piece of fruit
The Queen at Windsor Castle in 1992 with a cow called Elizabeth. She famously has a love of horses, cattle farming and corgis
The Queen and Prince Philip in New Zealand in 1953. She is seen smiling at him, while talking to one of the dignitaries at an engagement during their tour of the country which saw them stay there during Christmas that year
Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Willoughby Norrie, pictured with his wife Patricia and their children
Sir Willoughby Norrie with his wife Patricia Merryweather Bainbridge, whom he married in London in 1938, and their children
Queen visited Belgrade after leader asked to meet her for his birthday
The Queen visited Belgrade in 1972 after the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito personally asked to meet her to mark his 80th birthday.
It came nearly two decades after Marshal Tito became the first communist leader to visit a Western country in 1953, which marked the start of friendly relations between the two countries.
The Queen was given a warm welcome to Belgrade with thousands of Yugoslays packing out the streets which were decked in flags. People were standing on paths four to five deep in some points as the Queen and Marshal Tito drove by in an open car from Surcin Airport to the palace on Dedinje Hill where the Queen stayed.
She had been greeted on a red carpet at the airport from Marshal Tito, along with his wife. The Queen spent two days in Belgrade before going on a 780‐mile tour that saw her travel to a series of scenic areas in Yugoslavia.
Footage shot by Tito’s personal cameraman shows the monarch, on her first visit to a communist country, charming her host.
Among the light-hearted moments is the time they shared a golf buggy together – and even an orange.
The Queen is rarely seen on camera eating – she very much disapproves of that – but happily tucked into a piece of fruit and offered her host a segment.
The visit was considered a rousing success.
Broadcaster Wesley Kerr tells the documentary: ‘Britain absolutely has been well served by the Queen in terms of her mastery of diplomacy, the absence of slip-ups.’
Another shot shows the Queen with seven-month-old Prince Andrew as a baby at Balmoral in 1960, one of the first colour pictures taken of the young royal.
The documentary also highlights the Queen’s 40-year friendship with New Zealand dairy farmer Don Ferguson, with whom she co-owned a herd of Jersey cows after meeting him at an agricultural show in 1975.
He would regularly ring the Queen and let her know if their animals had won any prizes at the various cattle shows he attended.
On a visit to the country in 1990, the monarch made a point of detouring to visit him – and her cows.
Mr Ferguson’s widow, June, recalled how when visiting the paddock the monarch referred to her husband’s bad language. Mrs Ferguson noted that Philip ‘swears like a trooper’.
She says the Queen remarked to Mr Ferguson that ‘all husbands swear, don’t they?’, which made Mrs Ferguson laugh as her husband barely uttered a curse in his life.
The Queen Unseen is on ITV1 tonight at 9pm
How Queen covered 44,000 miles during her longest ever Commonwealth tour which saw her visit Bermuda, New Zealand, Uganda and Australia over six months
The Queen’s reign began with her longest ever Commonwealth tour, lasting six months from November 1953 to May 1954 and covering 44,000 miles across the West Indies, Australasia, Asia and Africa.
The countries visited were Bermuda and Jamaica in November 1953, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand in December 1953; Australia in February 1954, Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden and Uganda in April 1954, and Malta and Gibraltar in May 1954.
The Queen, whose coronation was in June 1953, initially flew to Bermuda and then to Jamaica, before boarding the SS Gothic which she used for the rest of her tour. Thousands flocked to the River Thames in May 1954 to see her return.
The tour featured in Netflix royal drama The Crown – during episode eight of series one, which also depicts some of the Queen’s advisers suggesting beforehand that she was not ready for such a big diplomatic endeavor.
Here is a series of photographs of visits the Queen made with the Duke of Edinburgh during the Commonwealth tour:
The Queen and Prince Philip return to Government House after attending a youth rally in Auckland, New Zealand, in December 1953
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the feast given in honour of the visiting royal couple in Tonga in December 1953
The Queen and Prince Philip leave Parliament House in Wellington after the Queen opened the New Zealand Parliament in January 1954
A map depicts the Commonwealth tour carried out over a seven-month period by the Queen which saw her travel 44,000 miles
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wave to crowds from the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, in December 1953
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the bridge of the SS Gothic as they leave Bluff Harbour in New Zealand in January 1954
The Queen wears her Coronation gown as she arriving to open Ceylon’s Parliament in Colombo in what is now Sri Lanka, in April 1954
The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh in their horse drawn carriage in Hamilton, Bermuda, during their tour in November 1953
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh drive into Kingston’s Sabina Park in Jamaica standing in a Land Rover in November 1953
The Queen visits the halt of Fielding on her way with Prince Philip from Primerston North to New Plymouth in New Zealand in 1953
The Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh go down to the glow-worm grotto during their visit to Waitomo in New Zealand in 1953
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh drive to the Grand Pacific Hotel escorted by Fijian torch bearers in December 1953