The Best of British Royalty on THIRTEEN

Cheers to the UK

Why do we love the British so? Is it their muffins’ irresistible nooks and crannies? Those nifty double-decker buses? The brilliant English countryside? Harry Potter? Tea???

Nonsense — it’s the royal family of course! The rise and fall of Charles and Di’s marriage, Will and Kate’s wedding, the Diamond Jubilee, Fergie — you know you were glued to your TV sets, afraid to tear yourself away from the pomp, circumstance and tabloid-worthy gossip.

With the London Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, interest in all things British is at fever pitch. Join THIRTEEN in saluting top historical, non-historical and often hysterical depictions of British Royalty over the years on PBS. View our slideshow and share your own royal memories.
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1. This Would Never Fly on Downton Abbey

Dame Judi Dench’s career has been nothing short of legendary. One of her finest roles has to be her Academy-Award nominated portrayal of Queen Victoria in Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre in 2000. The film, loosely based on actual events, depicts the unconventional relationship between the Queen and her Scottish servant John Brown.

Following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Victoria finds solace though Mr. Brown’s company. Problem is—they get a bit too comfortable with each other, leading many of the Queen’s servants and royal family members to worry about Brown’s influence over the queen. Let the drama unfold! (And boy did it ever.) Watch the trailer.
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2. Roadshow Relic from the Queen

Who wouldn’t want to own a piece of the royal family? Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace isn’t holding a yard sale anytime soon (although if the world economy stays sluggish…). In 2005, PBS viewer-favorite Antiques Roadshow provided the next best thing, as we watched a collector cash in on his memorabilia from the famed Cunard ship — the RMS Queen Mary.

Among the gentleman’s possessions were a telephone used in a first-class stateroom, a “launch booklet” that pre-dated the naming of the ship and a souvenir booklet given to passengers on the maiden voyage. Estimated value - $4,000. As the Queen likes to say – cha-ching! Watch the appraisal.
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3. The Royal(ly Early) Wedding

April 29th 2011. Who can forget that incredible day when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were united in matrimony? Well, probably many Americans considering the proceedings took place in the wee hours of the morning on this side of the pond. Nevertheless, millions of American Royal Watchers sacrificed a good night’s sleep to watch the events unfold on PBS.

What were they rewarded with? Only the Super Bowl of British royalty. From the gown to the waves, the flyovers to the kiss on the balcony, the Disneyesque carriage ride to the outrageous hats—it was a true reminder that absolutely no one comes close to the British in putting on a show. Relive your favorite Royal Wedding Day moments.
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4. Malice in the Palace

Some of the world’s finest actors have portrayed the title role in William Shakespeare’s King Lear—Sir Laurence Olivier and James Earl Jones are just a couple. Joining this esteemed list is the great Sir Ian McKellen, who returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company following a 17-year hiatus for Director Trevor Nunn’s spectacular production that aired on Great Performances in 2009.

The iconic tragedy tells the tale of Lear’s proposal to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on their love for him, spiraling forward to dramatize the king’s deception, betrayal and eventual descent into madness. “A crowning glory for McKellen,” wrote the London Sunday Observer. We couldn’t agree more. Watch the full performance.
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5. Bean Meets the Queen

You’d think that giving the man who demonstrated how to drive a car while sitting on its roof and how not to cook a holiday turkey an opportunity to greet a ruling monarch would be out of the question. Luckily for us, in this memorable moment from Mr. Bean (portrayed by Rowan Atkinson), our favorite zany Brit finds himself in a receiving line for Her Majesty, the Queen.

In the tense moments leading up to his encounter, he practices his greeting, flosses his teeth and shines his shoes (in a matter most-definitely not royal). Our only problem with this brilliant piece of comedy? We can’t believe Bean didn’t bring teddy along. Watch the clip.
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6. The British Invade the White House … Again

Sure, the British burned it down in 1814, but we've clearly decided to forgive and forget if we’re inviting Brits to the White House to honor them! And while he may not be a blood relative, you can be sure most of us Yanks consider Sir Paul McCartney British royalty. In 2010, the Beatle was honored by President Obama with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The concert, seen on In Performance at the White House on THIRTEEN, featured renditions of McCartney’s music by Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and David Grohl (who totally rocked “Band on the Run”) and of course, Sir Paul himself, who closed the evening with “Hey Jude,” getting a little help from his friends—the First Family—on stage. Watch the concert.
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7. Storming the Castle

In Windsor Castle (aired on THIRTEEN in 2006), viewers were taken deep inside the walls of the 1,000-year-old structure for an unprecedented look at the Queen’s favorite home —a “kingdom within a kingdom.” We felt the nerves of the massive staff as they meticulously prepared for a state dinner in honor of then French President Jacques Chirac. We admired the incredible priceless works of art, furniture and antiques that adorned the castle’s 900 rooms. And we relished our time with the best tour guide you could hope for— the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who for 50 years has served as ranger for the castle's 15,000 acre park.

Best of all we discovered the answers to so many of our burning royal family questions…like what a fendersmith is. Watch episodes online
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8. The Grand Royals of Grantham

It only began airing in 2011, but Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey has quickly become one of the most popular public television series of all-time. At the center of the drama (season 3 comes in January – hang on!!), of course, is the honorable Crawley family and the men and women who (almost always) faithfully serve them.

The family’s grand dame is Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (portrayed by the amazing Dame Maggie Smith) who consistently entertains with pearls of wisdom such as “No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house.” She’s one royal we definitely want on our side. Enter the world of Downton Abbey.
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9. The Queen of Longevity

Queen Elizabeth II may have just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, but she’s still got a few years before she catches up with Queen Victoria, who ruled for a record 64 years. More incredible though was the transformation of England from a small island nation into a world superpower under her reign.

As we learned on the series Queen Victoria’s Empire (recent aired on THIRTEEN), during her reign Britain produced half the world’s industrial goods, planted the British flag in the Middle East, India and Africa and produced a wealth of personalities (such as Benjamin Disraeli, Prince Albert and David Livingstone…we presume) who shaped British imperialism. Premieres 6/19 at 9pm on THIRTEEN - Watch a preview.
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10. Hail Arthur – King of the Britons!

The legendary tales of King Arthur have been recounted since the monarch’s rule in the early 6th century. But it was only a matter of time before the comedic geniuses of Monty Python would add to the canon. The comedy troupe appeared in numerous series and specials on THIRTEEN over the years, including the beloved Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

In a memorable sketch from their film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur and his brave (well, some of them) knights approach the “bridge of death,” where they must answer five questions (three questions!) in order to continue their quest and avoid death. (Note to self: Look up the capital of Assyria.) Watch the clip.
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11. Friday, We’re in Love

Posh and Becks? Nahh – too trendy. William and Kate? Yesterday’s news. Charles and Camilla? Hahaha – good one. No, our favorite British royal couple has got to be His Royal Highness, King Friday XIII (13 - how appropriate!) and his lovely wife, Queen Sara Saturday.

Ruling Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make Believe for decades on THIRTEEN, they maintain a perfect balance, with Friday’s stubborn and irrational behavior often grounded by Sara’s calm demeanor. Their royal wedding in 1969 was filled with the expected splendor, including a spectacular cake that took 81 hours to make. What’s that? Not British you say? Hey, it’s the Neighborhood of Make Believe! :) Watch the King serenade his beloved "pet."
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12. Long Live the Queen Vic!

For more than 25 years, residents of London's Albert Square have often gathered at their beloved pub—The Queen Victoria—on the hit British soap EastEnders. The Queen Vic has seen more changes in ownership than anyone but the most-loyal fans can possibly determine (we didn't even try) and has played host to pretty much every type of drama imaginable.

We’ve seen deaths, births, shootings, weddings, baby-swapping (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and, perhaps most notably, a massive fire in the 2010 season. Interesting to note, the set was actually burned down and reconstructed as part of the series’ move to high-definition. Relive the fire scene - if you can bear it.
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13. Game of Thrones

Last but far from least is the newest program of the lot—Queen and Country. So new, in fact, it hasn’t aired yet! Catch the premiere Sunday, 7/1 at 8pm on THIRTEEN. In the series, veteran journalist Sir Trevor McDonald honors Queen Elizabeth II’s recent Diamond Jubilee with a look at the grand traditions and age-old institutions surrounding the monarchy.

Witness the "Changing the Guard" at Buckingham Palace, join the Queen on her royal visits and travel back to the earliest days of her reign, when a young Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI (you know, The King’s Speech guy). Watch a preview.
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  • Debs/E20Launderette

    Ah, the memories! The Windsor Castle inspired my with a new goal: To someday be so important that I have a staff person whose sole duty is to wind my clocks and another to raise my flag whenever I return home. Her Madge sure knows how to live, doesn’t she?

  • BenInBrooklyn

    I myself am not a royal watcher, but I did just start reading “The Last Lion,” the difinitive 3-volume, 1200 page biography of Winston Churchill… who is almost like royalty, only a more important figure.

  • Valerie Smith

    Being the daughter of an Englishwoman, I look forward to watching all of these programs. Thank you for celebrating this banner year!

  • Iris V. Metzger

    Sadly, other than the 2 Royal Weddings (ie. DIana and now Kate), my favorite “royal ” programs are/were:
    Mr. Bean, Keeping Up Appearances and of course the fabulous Benny Hill Show. Please, put them back in the lineup for Fri. nite (or Saturday evening) “Royalty of English Comedy”. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

  • george newlin

    Like almost every American male, I was in love with Diana and took her death very hard.

  • Valerie Smith

    When will Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown be broadcast?

  • ruth schneider

    I enjoyed all three British events: Prince Charles & Diana’s wedding; Price William & Kate’s wedding, and, of
    course, Queen Elizabeth’s sixty years on the Throne and her 86th birthday. Everything was just so heart-warming and I wish that we could see more of what is going on in England that is of interest to not only to me but
    to others as well. I have been in England just ten years ago after the demise of my husband and found that
    England has so many places of interest to see. I enjoyed it so very much & hope to go again someday.

  • Jack Mazelis

    Britain is a fascinating and complex country and it is deeply disappointing to see such an emphasis on the royal family, the monarchy, William and Kate, etc. There is a great deal of interesting British television and a bit more of a balance in the choices would be much appreciated.

  • Dale Drake

    British Mysteries are fun.. Enjoyed all the programing from Britain. Keep bringing it to us. I watch THIRTEEN all the time.
    Thank you

  • Carole Runo

    When it comes to television, anything British gets my attention first. Just perfect and love love love anything about monarchy. But, have asked and asked and asked………..PLEASE bring back the Upstairs Downstairs series, the very best ever. Thank you.

  • Dolores Heinze

    As a child of British parents, I’m a true anglophile and my youngest son has lived in London for several years.
    Whether it’s Masterpiece Mysteries, the Classics or comedies. I’m in front of the Telly! Since I missed it the first time around, I’m now watching the original Upstairs, Downstairs and look forward to the newer series at 165 Eaton when it continues. All wonderful and interesting to see how Downton has grown from the first series in the 70’s.
    However, I’m not happy with the “new” Sherlock. No one can take Jeremy Britt’s place, nor should they try.

  • Ruth M. Kaufmann

    Please repeat the original PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Colin Firth et al.

  • Dolores Heinze

    PS. Monarchy documentaries also excellent.

  • Kathleen Pedersen

    Love all the British shows – Doc Martin, Rosemary and Thyme, Good Neighbors, – where are all those old goodies?

  • Max Becher

    I love the English, in person. And I love English comedy, drama, music, literature (not the food, obviously). But the fact that they still have a monarchy is an embarrassment to the country. And this worship of royalty in the US is seriously disturbing, too. I guess it appeals to the “symbol minded.”

  • Andrea Plunket

    I am not a British citizen, but married an Englishman. What many foreigners fail to understand, is that the Royal family has given a sense of unity to a majority of British people. And this is so for whatever political party they belong to.

  • Betty and Robert Wolfson

    We lived in London for two years, both during Thatcher’s reign (this word used intentionally). We didn’t like her. We are not monarchists, but we LOVED the way the Queen dealt with Thatcher when the US invaded Dominica. The Queen learned of it on the BBC News. Called Thatcher in for an explanation. When Thatcher said she was busy, the Queen ordered her in, and made her stand for two hours while she reamed her out.

  • Al Gardner

    Love great British artists – not monarchy, for some deeds of which the entire world still paying dearly. Appearances is the best! Long live good British humor!

  • Dolores Heinze

    The only difference between the Brits and us is that they bow to a monarch and we bow to our “celebrities”………
    Movie stars and Sports stars.

  • Diane Rhodes

    And, on the list of “things we’d like to enjoy again”, I add–“The Jewel in the Crown.”

  • Linda Pastorino

    As an x wife and now mother to a daughter of a British national and as well always interested in British history and a love for all the eccentrics that country has produced over the centuries, I am in favor of British subjects on our tv. I have watched masterpiece since I was a pre teen and now my daughter loves the acting, intensity of dialogue and the beautiful architecture and gardens.
    I sometimes disagree with how the monarchy acts in face of a crisis , however I admire strong long last traditions.I respect a Queen that is a working monarch and that is involved with all activities. She is vital and really invested in her countries welfare which is made clear on the show The Royal Family at Work. It makes me happy to see things that stand strong and true no matter how much pom and circumstance, because it shows respect and pride of place, something that us Americans all too soon forget. These standards are kept with higher taxes which the British seem mostly willing to adhere to because they also know the system not only works to keep the Royal family in staff but also helps to keep people from sleeping on the street or seeking medical attention without being left bancrupted . Change is good in certain circumstances like the abolition of slavery or woman’s rights but when it comes to something like the stiff upper lip or the respect for Britian’s first family, I admire a country that can be who they are and remain British, which is a hard class act to follow.

  • Rosemarie Harvey

    I hope all these comments are from faithful members, who pledge. I’ve been a dues-paying member for over 50 years and have enjoyed being a part of the 13 family every minute. Many, many thanks for all the “good stuff”.

  • Inge H.

    Thanks again for your recent invitation to tour you NYC facilities. It was just great.
    We also have been members since over 40 years and even with all the cabel tv station, we have all PBS stations (8 – 13 – 21) on the remote most of our tv watching hours. But it would be great if you all could coordinate your fund raising time on the air, not having it all on the same month or week. It becomes a bit to much somtimes, all these interuptions. For the great entertainment that come from the BBC our sincere THANKS, but all the programs (some more than others) are just wonderful and we coudn’t pick any singel one as our favorite.
    It is great to have you in our livingroom.

  • Betty and Robert Wolfson

    We must correct our earlier comment. The error is Robert’s. Betty is responsible for the correction. It was Grenada which was invaded in 1983, not Dominica. The Queen was unhappy that Thatcher had given approval (to “The Gipper”) of the invasion by the US, and had not informed her (the Queen). She called Thatcher in for an explanation, and when Thatcher did not show “proper” respect, kept her standing for two hours. It seems that in the Queen’s presence one doesn’t sit until permission is granted. This priceless story was broadcast on “All Things Considered.”

  • margaret boyle

    have been watching for years………my grown children always remember me watching the forsyte saga…the rule was no talking during the hour when mom was watching her show….my daughter inherited the bug….she watches thirteen and we love sharing thoughts on various shows….am so happy to learn you will air faulty towers again…truly a hilarious show….que!

  • Janet Hanson

    I am so looking forward to this British concentration! We were in Oxford for sabbatical at the time of Charles and Diana’s wedding and England has held a special part of my heart ever since. Actually, I watch a LOT of Thirteen on all kind of topics!

  • Daria

    I’m a monarchist and a royalist (though I was born in former USSR and brought to the States at age ten), and I have a great amount of respect for the current Royal Family, especially Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh. They do a great deal for the Commonwealth and it was obvious that the said Commonwealth appreciated all the work that they have done over the past sixty years. It was so lovely to watch the Jubilee events and the warm reception Her Majesty received from her subjects. I’m glad that these programs are being aired here in the States. The British are to be commanded for preserving the monarchy for as long as they have. It’s the only form of government that enables the nation to truly unify and come together in times of war/adversity, because I bet my last dollar that no politician can ever dream of having the kind of response that Her Majesty elicits just by driving by in a car. She’s loved. She’s Great Britain, and her subjects/admirers know that. God Save Her Majesty and allow her to reign for many more years! Platinum Jubilee, here we come!

  • NYCPatriot

    With all due respect, what’s up with all these programs about these British hemophiliacs as we are about to celebrate Independence Day? How about more programs on the bicentennial of War of 1812? Forget about the Nazis and Soviets, it was the British who captured Washington DC and burned down the White House. As Jon Stewart said in his Queen impersonation, “Helloooooooo!”

  • jean friedman

    My 3 boys were trained to march upstairs to bed the minute they heard the theme from “Masterpiece Theater” every Sunday night. That was more than 40 years ago! Let’s have Brit sit-coms forever on 13.

  • Isabel

    I was disappointed that last night’s episode of Queen and Country was a repeat of last week’s episode. I hope that you will be showing Episode 2 and that I don’t miss it. Thank you.