On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving British monarch.

The Telegraph reports:

The Queen will surpass Queen Victoria’s record reign of 63 years seven months and two days at around 5.30pm on Wednesday. She will spend the morning opening a new railway line in the Borders before returning to Balmoral.

She will spend the evening with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be carrying out engagements elsewhere after the Queen insisted the day should be “business as usual”.

The Telegraph article has a number of fascinating photographs, never before seen.

In 1991, the BBC made a documentary of the Queen called Elizabeth R. A BBC book accompanied the series.

David Secombe, 53 — son of the late comedian and practising Christian, Sir Harry Secombe — was the BBC photographer assigned to take pictures of the monarch as she went about her daily work. He took many stills over the course of eight months.

Secombe explained that his camera had to be silent the whole time. It was put in what he calls a blimp, which looked like a ‘large biscuit tin’. He also had to be unobtrusive. He told The Telegraph that he felt like David Attenborough observing wildlife. Few words were exchanged between Secombe and the Queen.

Oddly, this prestigious assignment did not catapult Secombe into a star photographer, as beautiful and captivating as his stills are. In 1992, he says, he had hardly any work. However, the Queen remembered him:

It did, though, mean I got to do a couple of official portraits of the Queen in subsequent years, one of the Queen and Prince Charles in the 1990s and one for the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Do take a few moments to look at Secombe’s Royal photographs, which were not included in the Elizabeth R book. They show a completely different side to the Queen, normally seen publicly only at official engagements or in portraits.

Long may she reign over us!

Meanwhile, photographers interested in seeing more of David Secombe’s atmospheric work can visit his site The London Column.

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