Once upon a time, when Paddington Bear was just a twinkle in his creator Michael Bond’s eye, the author perched high up in Westminster Abbey at the Queen’s coronation.
Then a young BBC crew member on one of his first jobs in TV, the beloved late author got a sensational birdseye view of the young princess, who was his own age, swearing her solemn oath.
Just five years later he published a storybook about a Peruvian refugee bear – and 70 years on, Her Majesty took tea with the bear.
It was a beautiful quirk of synchronicity which made the delightful surprise sequence between the Queen and a computer-generated Paddington, broadcast ahead of the Party at the Palace on Saturday night, so moving for Bond’s family.
Not least because the footage, showcasing the Queen’s sense of humour, was a surprise for them all – except his daughter Karen Jankel, 63, who had been holding in the secret with huge difficulty for three months.
She explains: “I was contacted by one of the film producers. It was a courtesy, had my father been alive he would have been told.
“Just before, I told family they must watch the beginning of the Party at the Palace. It was a very hard secret to keep. It was so brilliant, the Queen was brilliant.
“The biggest honour ever. A close member of our family has now had tea with her,” she laughs.
“It was as if my father had written it, it kept the gentle humour of Paddington. The Queen seems to share his dry, quiet sense of humour, that twinkle in the eye.
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“And Paddington’s words at the end, thanking the Queen for everything, were really special.”
Michael Bond wrote and published Paddington stories until 2017, the year of his death aged 91. He met the Queen when he received his OBE in 1997.
But it was at her coronation where he caught his first in-person glimpse of the monarch.
During the Second World War he worked as an engineer’s assistant at the BBC then served in the British Army.
He returned to the corporation, becoming a cameraman and working on shows including Blue Peter, while writing children’s stories.
The image of him overlooking the crowning of the Queen could be out of a Paddington story, with the hapless bear in his place – possibly about to drop a marmalade sandwich on the royal’s head…
Karen says her father would have loved Saturday night’s sketch, in which Paddington shared tea with Her Majesty before he and the Queen swap notes on where they keep their trusty marmalade sandwiches.“My father very much respected the Royal Family and was proud of his OBE and CBE,” says Karen.
“His favourite part would have been the marmalade sandwich,” she adds.
“We all wanted to know what the Queen keeps in her handbag. It was perfectly done.”