Blaze of Glory

By Ben Felsenburg

‘I’ve seen one Coronation, and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable.’ These can only be the words of Her Majesty The Queen, and what a privilege it is to hear
Her Majesty’s memories in The Coronation (Sunday, BBC1, 8pm). This extraordinary documentary is the formidable curtain-raiser to a season of films devoted to the Royal Collection, and here the focus is the Crown Jewels and the sacred, ancient purpose to which the regalia are put at the start of each reign. 

The centrepiece is St Edward’s Crown, destroyed after the Civil War, only to be remade for Charles II, and three centuries on its near-five-pound weight was placed upon the head of first George VI and then, one unseasonably chilly June day in 1953, that of his daughter Elizabeth. While the world gazed on in wonder, there was drama behind the scenes, recounted by distinguished historical advisor Alastair Bruce as he meets Her Majesty; a maid of honour for whom it was all almost too much; and a chorister who saved the day when the other boys’ voices failed them. Then in Art, Passion & Power: The Story Of The Royal Collection (Tuesday, BBC4, 9pm), the elegant and erudite Andrew Graham-Dixon begins his sparkling new four-part series with a lookback to the reigns of Henry VIII and Charles I, and explains
how both offset their mixed historical record by buying some of the finest paintings the world has ever seen.