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Royal Road

About the film

'Royal Road' takes a look at both the public-facing activities of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) during the Second World War, as well as a showing a glimpse of the royal family’s private life in the gardens at Windsor.


Release year
Production company
British Movietone News
Gerald Sanger
Leslie Mitchell
Raymond Perrin
Running time (minutes)
10 mins 41 secs

Original Description

The King Among His Subjects
'King George VI with his soldiers, sailors and airmen, the leader of an Empire at war. He inspects arsenals, factories and shipyards; he visits the bombed areas. The film includes happy glimpses of the home life of the Royal Family.’
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43)


  • Royal Road is a revised version of a 1939 film entitled Royal Review, which was comprised from footage by British Movietone News and made as a silent piece for audiences across the colonial empire. Royal Review showed the various activities of the king pre-war, and included shots of his coronation and his attendance at sporting events. When the British Council decided to update the film in 1941, it was decided to make the film more topical - sport being replaced by the war effort.
  • According to contemporary production notes, it was also decided that the film would be “quite inadequate without some new material of Their Majesties.” Royal Review was thus shown to the king and queen, who agreed to contribute to a new version by allowing Movietone to film them and the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the gardens at Windsor. The notes also state that the king “had taken a considerable personal interest in the film.”
  • The brief scene of a family leaving their house around 01:35 mark is not quite what it seems. A relative of the Richards family, who lived in the house, visited one day with a Movietone cameraman in tow and asked them to carry some drawers from the building to make it look like they were salvaging items from a bomb-damaged house. The flag was also hung from the windows for the benefit of the camera.


Click below - or the link on the right - to read a transcript of the film


English Voiceover

Royal Road. Majesty, dominion, power. That is the historic conception of monarchy, the exalted path of kings. Majesty indeed there is, but for the great state occasions, rather than for every day. Dominion, yes, for the British Empire stretches to the four corners of the Earth. And power, because our King is now the only political link between its self-governing communities.


English Voiceover

But shall we look for a few minutes at the King as an individual, forgetting the majesty, dominion, and power in his common fellowship with all of us. Here is a man, happy in his home life, blessed with the joys of a charming family, called suddenly to the leadership of an empire at war.


English Voiceover

Let us realise that the hardest duty of King George VI is to live up to the expectations of nearly 500 million subjects. Our expectation is that he should symbolise all that is best in British character, policy, and ideals. In war, it is just those things that are on trial.


English Voiceover

We wondered, didn’t we, how we should ourselves endure the horrors of air-raids. It is because there has been no weakening anywhere that the German campaign of terror from the skies has failed. And the moral example of the King’s presence in Buckingham palace – a favourite Nazi target – has had its effect. They hope to bomb him out, but the King and Queen are still in London.


English Voiceover

In quiet courage and endurance, he is indeed fully identified with his people. It is his royal way to visit the bombed areas to express his admiration of the sufferer’s fortitude – admiration and sympathy. The King and Queen must know more about the sufferings of their fellow countrymen than any of their subjects. Wherever they have gone – London, Merseyside, Scotland, Plymouth, and Coventry – the effect has been mutual encouragement. And encouragement means just what it implies – the giving or fostering of courage.


English Voiceover

Of course, the King in his work has one incalculable blessing – the partnership of the Queen. If ever a man was lucky in this respect, it is he; that is transparently true. Have you ever seen the Queen looking other than happy or interested? Have you ever seen her looking the least bit bored, or even tired? The reason is that the Queen is happy, and is interested. Her smile and radiance proceed from a real sympathy and a real understanding. She never misses an opportunity to perform a graceful or human act of kindness.


English Voiceover

It has fallen to these two people to lead an empire’s war effort. And while the Queen’s first care is for the humanitarian side of the conflict, the King must dedicate himself to those who are engaged in the winning of victory. We see him with his sailors, men who are fighting the Battle of the Atlantic. How many times in the history of this nation has her fate depended on the courage and endurance of her seamen. Even in this war, which has seen a huge growth in the importance of air power, it is still true that Britain’s lifeline is her sea route across the Atlantic. The seamen of the Royal Navy are safeguarding the sea lanes while their comrades of the Merchant Navy traverse them with essential food and supplies.


English Voiceover

To wage its own battle in the clouds, the Navy has the fleet air arm, whose pilots are honoured by a visit from the King.


English Voiceover

At the launching of the mighty battleship Duke of York.


English Voiceover

The with the Royal Air Force.


English Voiceover

He shows his interest in the newest form of aerial warfare by a visit to British paratroops.


English Voiceover

He, the first of the royal house of Windsor to gain his wings, now presents the rewards of bravery and gallantry to the pilots who routed the Luftwaffe.


English Voiceover

With the army in training for the battles of Britain or the continent, he handles a Tommy Gun. On a visit to the Canadians, he goes for a ride in a Bren Carrier.


English Voiceover

He remembers the devotion of his Indian subjects, who have come so long away to fight for their King Emperor. Nor does he forget that latest creation of a resourceful and determined people, the Home Guard, to whom on demand he proves his identity.


English Voiceover

The King heartens, by periodic visits, all those fighting services of the empire of which he is Commander-in-Chief. Yes, he has lived up to all those expectations which we had formed of kingship as the embodiment and reflection of a people’s spirit. He has lived up to all our expectations as the head of that great gathering of nations who are sworn to overthrow the Nazis.


English Voiceover

Among them, the great dominions of the Crown. But there is something more, something personal. The same quality which inspired him to meet the new American ambassador at the station on his arrival. By his own personal inclinations, the King is adding further lustre to his high office. This is a war of the workshop as well as of the battlefield. The King has always made a study of industrial conditions.


English Voiceover

When he goes on his inspections of factories, arsenals, and shipyards where the weapons of war are being forged, he carries with him a genuine interest in the man and woman of the bench, and a sincere desire to promote their welfare. They know it, and his words of thanks, his expression of the nation’s appreciation, are so much the more acceptable.


English Voiceover

When all is said and done, everything comes down to the individual, to the quality of each man and woman doing his or her job, and the influence of their characters on others. That doesn’t mean at work only; home life is important.


English Voiceover

The fact that the home life of the royal family is such a pattern of happiness is one more guarantee of the character of its members, children as well as parents.


English Voiceover

The Queen’s amused consternation when Princess Elizabeth drops a stitch.


English Voiceover

There is a new world being born of this conflict, on that everyone is agreed. It is a new world in which there will be for everyone a fairer share of the blessings of life. And the royal pair is traveling the road to this new world, a royal road, surrounded by their people’s love and leading to the new world of peace, fellowship, and freedom. It may not be the millennium, but it will be a freer, more democratic world. It is a world which already has its inspiration in the King and Queen.