On Tour With The Queen

Monday, August 31 on 4

Kwame Kwei-Armah visits Libya, Malta and Gibraltar before returning to London as he retraces the final leg of The Queen’s 1953 Commonwealth Tour. The Queen’s visit to Gibraltar became the centre of a major international row. Spain saw her visit as a deliberate provocation and the trip sparked anti-British riots in Spain and the closure of their border with Gibraltar for 16 years. Kwame returns to London to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Commonwealth at Westminster Abbey, where he gets to speak in front of – and meet – The Queen.

Monday, August 24 on 4

Kwame Kwei-Armah continues to retrace the Queen’s 1953 Commonwealth Tour. Fiji, which once showed unconditional devotion to the Queen, has now dispensed with her as head of state and, after numerous military coups, was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2006. Sri Lanka was granted independence six years before the Queen’s visit, but kept her as Head of State: a link Britain was keen to maintain. But her visit was contentious. Of the 21 African countries under British rule in 1953, Uganda was the only one included on the Queen’s tour, as the demand for independence was sweeping through East Africa.

Monday, August 17 on 4

Retracing the Queen’s 1953 world tour, Kwame Kwei-Armah visits Australia and New Zealand. For the Queen, Australia was the biggest stage of all: the largest, richest, most demanding nation of the whole tour. Australia today is known for its growing republican sentiment, which Kwame samples first hand on the streets of Sydney. Kwame discovers how in one single, emotionally charged encounter, Elizabeth negotiated a critical path between the Maori people and the New Zealand Government, re-shaping the nation’s destiny, and how she also began to discover her own diplomatic strength.

Monday, August 10 on 4

In 1953, the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth set off on a six month, 45,000 mile, round-the-world journey. The Coronation Tour was the most ambitious royal tour ever undertaken, and would radically change Britain’s relationship with the world. On the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth, actor and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah retraces the young Queen’s journey across five continents. Intercut with rarely seen archive footage from the tour, this four-part series is the story of Britain’s fight to keep its status as a world power even while its empire was slipping away.

On the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth, actor-writer Kwame Kwei-Armah retraces Queen Elizabeth II’s infamous ’53 journey around The Colonies in On Tour With The Queen (Channel 4, Monday, 10 August, 9pm).

This world tour, undertaken with Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor saw Her Maj’ honing her style as the frontperson for a progressive pop singer. Of course, it’s during this time that Queen Liz began penning classic hit ‘Killer Queen’, which of course, related to the time she went postal on a bunch of grouse in New Zealand.

Naturally, this is all a very poor lie, crow barred in for comic effect about the old blueblood. This show will in fact be Yet Another Look At The Life Of Someone Impossibly Privileged. This time, looking at her when her youth was robbed.

Young Liz was shipped off on a 45,000-mile tour which was the most ambitious royal visit ever undertaken.

Along the way, we’ll take in the sights of Bermuda, Jamaica and Tonga and, to be honest, there will be a few people watching this who will be thinking that it seems a bit crass for a rich white woman to go waving at a group of countries ravaged by slave trade.

Of course, others will like watching the Queen in action and will leap to their feet at every single mention of her, clutching their heart and welling up saying “MAKES YOU PROUD DUNNIT?”

Then there’s the third type of person who simply Likes That Sort Of Thing. If you have any sense, you’ll invariably watch The Street on BBC One at the same time.

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