Born to Royalty and More British History

Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson in Starz’ “The White Queen.”

Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson in Starz’ “The White Queen.”

Anticipating and welcoming the royal baby of William and Kate is thankfully one of the few pieces of good news covered by the media today. Although we fought the Revolutionary War to get away from British rule, Americans have never lost their fascination with the English kings and queens who have sat on the throne. There are several magnificent TV and film productions that should thrill Anglophiles starting with the theatrical release of the BBC Worldwide documentary Born to Royalty. The film fully embraces what it means to be a child of the British Royal Family, giving an intimate look at what lies ahead for Will and Kate’s bundle of joy.

With interviews, rarely-seen archive footage, and family pictures, Born to Royalty tells the story of how heirs to the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth are prepared for their ultimate role of Monarch. The documentary is a job well-done. Adding to its credibility, it is narrated by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and features expert interviews with author Ingrid Seward (Royal Biographer and Editor of Majesty Magazine), Ken Wharfe (Princess Diana’s Bodyguard), and veteran Royal correspondent Jennie Bond. The personal stories from former Royal Photographer Jayne Fincher are especially sweet.

The charm of the film comes from intertwining both grand images and more intimate glimpses of the royal lives together. It offers a look at Queen Elizabeth II, her parents and grandparents, and her own heirs, from Charles (and his marriage to Diana) through young Princes William and Harry. The changing way that Royals have dealt with their own children is explored, showing that it has become more hands-on through the generations. It also looks at what it means to enter this rarefied world from the outside, starting with Princess Diana and more recently the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, aka Kate.

Born to Royalty’s producer Soumya Sriraman says the film is more than a documentary about the Royals, “it is a look at how parenting continues to evolve with every generation.” And it’s coming to the Laemmle Theatres just in time for the Royal baby’s arrival.

Covering more turbulent times in English history, the drama series The White Queen premieres Aug. 10 on the Starz premium channel. It is a lush and riveting 15th Century period drama, when the battle for the throne was a high-stakes game that women played too.

The White Queen is the true story of love and lust, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder. It is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless historical women – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate, and seduce their way onto the English throne. The year is 1464, before the Tudor dynasty ruled the country, and war has been ravaging throughout England over who is the rightful King. It is a bitter dispute between two sides of the same family, The House of York and The House of Lancaster. The House of York’s young and handsome Edward IV (Max Irons) is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator, Lord Warwick “The Kingmaker.” But when Edward falls in love with a beautiful Lancastrian commoner, Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), Warwick’s plans come crashing down. A violent struggle ensues to grab control of the throne. Janet McTeer, James Frain, and Amanda Hale also star.

Coming soon is the highly anticipated British royal story that continues to captivate the world. Diana stars Naomi Watts as Diana, Princess of Wales. Set for release this fall, the film is directed by Oscar-nominee Oliver Hirschbiegel and also stars Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, and Juliet Stevenson.

Taking audiences into the private realm of one the world’s most iconic and inescapably public women, Diana puts the spotlight on the Princess of Wales during her last two years, when she became her own woman. She was building a different life, evolving into a global humanitarian, and becoming a master of maneuvering her fame to help her causes.

It explores Diana’s secret love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Andrews), and the human complications of which reveal the Princess’s climactic days in a compelling new light. The screenplay by award-winning playwright Stephen Jeffreys was inspired by Kate Snell’s book Diana: Her Last Love.

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