It’s been a few months since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding, but the fever around the royal family is only getting stronger with time. Take, for instance, how Markle’s every move—She closes car doors! She takes the train!—is analyzed or how eagerly the public awaits Kate Middleton’s return from maternity leave.
And tonight, October 1, HBO will give us even more of the royal content we crave by airing the documentary Queen of the World. It takes a look at Queen Elizabeth II’s role on the global stage and how she’s passing the torch on to the younger royals. Speaking of those younger royals, the documentary gives us a rare inner look at Meghan and Harry’s married life. In one scene, the Duchess of Sussex opens up about her wedding dress and veil. As she’s viewing both for the first time since the royal wedding, she reveals that she added a piece of blue fabric from her first date with Prince Harry into the look. That wasn’t the only tribute, either: She also had flowers from all 53 U.K. Commonwealth countries represented in the veil.
However, the documentary’s executive producer Nick Kent told Glamour there’s another hidden connection to the Queen herself in Meghan’s veil. “I’ll tell you what was really impressive about the story to embroider those flowers,” Kent explains. “Apart from being something she gave a lot of thought and care to, it shows an appreciation of something not everybody necessarily understands, which is that symbols are really important to monarchy.”
He continues, “They’ve been important for a thousand years or more. That particular symbol of having flowers embroidered into a dress—I don’t know if she was aware of this—but 65 years earlier the Queen did the same thing on her coronation. She had the eight flowers of the then eight Commonwealth countries embroidered into her gown. It says something really personal and individual; but also as a symbolic gesture, it was part of a great tradition of how symbols have a powerful significance in terms of bonding monarchy to people.”
Many of us might not realize is how deeply important the Commonwealth countries are to the Queen. “The Commonwealth is the thing that she counts as her greatest personal achievement,” he says. “When she became queen 65 years ago, her father died very suddenly, very unexpectedly. She never imagined she’d be queen at such a young age. At that time, there were eight countries in the Commonwealth. Now there are 53. So she has really dedicated the last 65 years of her life to sustaining and nurturing this institution.”
As Kent was on hand for the filming (and has worked with the royal family in the past, most recently with Prince Harry and Prince William on the touching documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy) we asked him for some more behind-the-scenes secrets. Read on.
On the Queen’s sense of humor…
“What really surprised me is that she’s got a fantastic sense of humor. You see that in the clip where she’s recording her Christmas message and there’s bird noise and she has to redo it. She really takes it in good heart. I saw it on many occasions when she’s just meeting people. She meets hundreds of people every year, and they’re strangers. Most of these people are pretty intimidated at the prospect of meeting the Queen, but she puts them at ease through her sense of humor.
It’s obviously something she’s passed on to Harry, because there’s a really nice clip you’ve probably seen where Harry is meeting these young people who are working in Buckingham Palace; in the first few seconds of meeting them, he uses his sense of humor immediately to put them at ease. I think that’s something he’s picked up from his grandmother. Of course, the two of them worked together when they were promoting the Invictus Games, and they made that video of him and the Queen with President Obama and Michelle Obama. That’s a real sign of the Queen’s sense of humor and her media savvy as well.”
Speaking of Harry…
“I think there’s a maturity that is growing in him and also a sense of responsibility. One of the things we show in the film is how the Queen is passing on her duties and her responsibilities to the younger generation. It’s going to be really interesting to see Harry and Meghan later this year when they set off on their first Commonwealth tour to Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific. It’s exactly 65 years after the Queen set off on her great Commonwealth tour, just after her coronation.
The thing about being a member of the Royal Family, and it’s true of Harry and it’s true of Meghan, is that it’s hard work. You have to find a purpose to your life. The way the members of the Royal Family do that is they try to find a cause to champion, so Harry has in the past been very active in championing awareness of HIV Aids. He and William and Kate were very active in championing mental health recognition. I think Meghan’s talked about how women’s rights are going to be one of the causes she’s going to be really invested in.”
On the royal family bringing people together…
“The thing about members of the royal family, in particular this generation, is that they’re above politics; they are about values, about promoting particular values. I think at a time when the world is very divided—you know, my country is very polarized, [the United States are] very polarized—politicians are not doing a great job when it comes to bringing people together. And actually, the royal family is pretty good at bringing people together. Whatever their political opinions are, people come to respect the royal family and see them as role models. That’s a big responsibility. In terms of Harry, you’re seeing him really take on that responsibility.”
Meghan seems to be adjusting just fine…
“It’s really impressive when we filmed with her. It won’t surprise you, given her background as an actor, that she’s a consummate professional. But what was surprising was how natural and at ease she was. Because the thing is, she hadn’t seen her wedding dress since the day of her wedding. Think about that: Even on the day of her wedding, she probably didn’t look that carefully at her dress because most people on their wedding day are so anxious about everything going smoothly and the sun shining and things not going wrong. The whole thing kind of passes in a blur. So this is probably the first time she’s had a chance to really look at that dress with some care and attention.
What was really touching was one of the first things she said, and one of the first things she did, was examine the dress to try and find that little piece of blue fabric which she’d had sewn into the dress from the dress that she’d worn on her first date with Harry—that was a very spontaneous, natural moment.
My sense is she’s someone with a strong sense of public service and duty and trying to do things that make the world a little bit better. Clearly that’s something that fits very well with the mission statement of the royal family, because that’s what each member of the royal family is about.”
Queen of the World airs on HBO on Monday, October 1, at 8 PM ET