Palaces Actually

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

There's a new documentary series on Channel 5, which I'm thoroughly enjoying and would recommend to all lovers of Royal History! It is entitled 'Secrets of the Royal Palaces'.

Follow link here to watch.

The documentary recounts the many historical episodes from the majestic lodgings' memoirs across this Sceptred Isle. You're shown the exterior and where possible, the interior views, of all the Royal Homes you've heard of and some which you probably did not know about. The locations are not limited to the present Royal Family, either: some of the palatial stories told date back to the first royal occupants, e.g. Henry VIII or Queen Victoria.

The story about Henry VIII and his accident at Greenwich Palace in 1536 is a very prominent event in his life - it changed his life on a dime - from an athletic man into an overweight invalid. I was delighted they included this story, since some historians believe it's key to understanding Henry VIII's life and his decisions in 1536 and after. I'm adding a link to a great book on the topic by Suzannah Lipscomb.

Curiously, the episodes of 'Secrets of the Royal Palaces' don't focus on one Residence at a time - despite what the titles suggest - but instead, present a tapestry of historical anecdotes. It's a 'Love Actually' of Palaces, if you will. 'Four Palaces and a Castle'...I'll stop now...

The interviews include some well-known historians, e.g. Kate Williams, and those intimately connected with the Royal Family, e.g. Paul Burrell - Princess Diana's butler. The documentary series don't have a presenter, but instead you hear a lovely voiceover from actress Samantha Bond - who has herself played HMQ Elizabeth II on two occasions: 'The Queen: The Life of a Monarch' (2009) and 'The Queen and I' (2018).

Buckingham Palace

N.B. 1. Episodes 1-5 of 'Secrets of the Royal Palaces' are available right now on My5 App - the catch-up app of Channel 5. Episode 6 is coming this Saturday. Heartily recommend this app for all your edutainment needs. And it's free!

N.B. 2. If you can't get enough of Royal Palaces, there's another one on BBC iPlayer, presented by Lucy Worsley and focussing on Historic Royal Palaces' locations: Kensington Palace, Hampton Court and The Tower.

The Tower of London

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