Royal Collection to be Digitized by British Film Institute and BBC

BFI logo New - P 2012

The British royal family's archives include a mixture of films presented to the Royal Household including newsreels and private family films dating back to the 1920s.

LONDON – The British Film Institute and the BBC will work together to digitize the Royal Collection of films.

The partnership to convert to digital the British royal households mix of films including newsreels and private family films dating back to the 1920s, was made as the Queen made a rare personal appearance at the BFI Southbank complex in London on Thursday.

The British monarch attended a screening of rare works from the BFI National Archive – a collection championed by Martin Scorsese among others – at the BFI's flagship cinema complex in central London.

The BFI National Archive has been tasked with looking after the Royal family's collection since the late 1960s.

The Queen attended the BFI Southbank as part of her own Jubilee year, which ties in with 60 years of the BFI’s first permanent cinema on London’s South Bank - the National Film Theatre (NFT), inaugurated in Oct. 23, 1952.

Robin Baker, head curator of the BFI National Archive, detailed the BFI’s work to restore early Hitchcock Films and presented a restored 3D film, Royal Review, shot during the Queen's Coronation in 1952.

At the event longstanding BFI supporter Jonathan Ross presented to her majesty a handpicked screening of rare items from the BFI National Archive, including some royal home movies with King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Charles as a small baby, the first film to feature a monarch -- Queen Victoria, Scenes at Balmoral (1896) and one of the first ever British films The Derby from 1895.

BFI chairman Greg Dyke said: "Given that the moving image wasn’t invented until the end of the 19th century I find it extraordinary to think that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for more than half the time that film has been in existence. When we built BFI Southbank, it was a temporary structure in a less than ideal location under Waterloo Bridge. Who could have predicted then that, 60 years on, film would become one of the world’s greatest and most accessible art forms, supporting a huge industry. And no one would have predicted we’d still be under the bridge!"

Guests on hand for the Queen's visit included The King's Speech director Tom Hooper and Richard Ayoade, director of Submarine.