Barbara Windsor with Queen Elizabeth II during a royal visit to Elstree Studios where EastEnders is filmed.Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire.
It will come as no surprise that I must mention the passing of our beloved Queen. I am of a certain age and was brought up not to cry as a man as it was a sign of weakness. Stupid, yes, but that was the way it was. Hence I have never cried since my Mum died 22 years ago and she was the last of my close family. However, when I heard the news that Her Majesty had died I cried, which I find hard to explain. I saw her at three Royal film performances but sadly never got to meet her.
I have enjoyed the pleasure of meeting King Charles twice back in the 1990s. The first time was when he pinned my MBE on me at Buckingham Palace and then two years later when I helped host his visit to Elstree Studios to open the giant George Lucas sound stages. I think I have told you about some of the funny things that happened behind the scenes so we won’t go there. However, I will say he will make an excellent King and I hope he will enjoy a long reign so his son Prince William can enjoy his young family without the pressure of being King.
I stand to be corrected but the I think the Queen only visited Borehamwood once, which was a few years ago when she visited the EastEnders set and cast at the BBC Elstree Centre.
Princess Margaret visited twice in the 1950s, once to Elstree Studios with her mother, the then Queen Elizabeth, and later alone to open a local church.
Back in the late 1920s the future King George VI visited Elstree Studios and his brother Edward VIII made private visits in the early 1930s. In 1934 King George V and Queen Mary were driven along Shenley Road past the studios on their way to open Shenley Hospital. If you go to the Pathe News site online you can watch this and admire in that era the total lack of security required. In the 1980s I had the pleasure to help arrange for Princess Anne to open a new building at Elstree Studios. I have again spoken about the behind the scenes of that visit so I will not bore you again.
I believe the last Royal visit to Elstree Studios was not that long ago by Prince Andrew. I am now part of the past so naturally was not invited and between you and me I would not have accepted the invitation because I have standards. I suspect we will have future Royal visits – who knows where or when. I really hope the public will support Charles knowing that, as we say in showbiz, our beloved Queen is a hard act to follow. There is nothing left to say but God save the King.
- Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios