A Royal Night Out

On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.

A ROYAL NIGHT OUT is a film about one perfect, glorious evening in the lives of two real-life princesses. They are Elizabeth and Margaret Windsor and the night is 8 May 1945, V-E Night. The whole of London is on the streets to celebrate the official end of World War II in Europe. It is known the young princesses, aged 19 and 14, slipped out of the palace to join the communal euphoria and went dancing at the Ritz. They apparently returned to Buckingham Palace just after midnight. Directed by acclaimed UK director Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane, Brideshead Revisited), A ROYAL NIGHT OUT is an affectionate ‘what-if’ story about the adventures Elizabeth and Margaret might have had on the joyous night that brought the whole of London together. “The idea of the two princesses, out on the town, incognito, is very exciting,” says Jarrold. “It’s a true story by which everybody is intrigued. But we don’t know exactly what happened. It’s a little fantasy inspired by that true story. It’s also a romantic comedy adventure about an odd couple, Jack is a working-class guy and Elizabeth is a princess. They are thrown together by chance and have to make their way through London on this crazy, unbelievable night. And they’ve both got secrets. The princess has her secret identity and Jack has a secret she doesn’t know about.”

The original script was written by newcomer Trevor de Silva and then Kevin Hood, with whom Jarrold had worked closely on Becoming Jane. “Kevin and I had a very good collaboration,” says Jarrold. “Kevin has done a fantastic job in depicting the texture of the different worlds, the Royal palace, the teeming crowds. He’s also very good on the witty humour of the characters.”

A ROYAL NIGHT OUT is produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae of Ecosse Films, the UK production company that has made its name for skilfully blending historical figures and events with fictional elements in films such as Mrs Brown, Nowhere Boy, and Becoming Jane.

“The key to this kind of filmmaking is to do it with integrity and fun,” says Bernstein. “You create the world, allow people to believe the characters are in that world and then take those characters on a journey.”

The Queen is incredibly popular because she has such a strong connection between the people and herself. In the film we play with the idea of how this might have been cemented through her experiences on this iconic night.”

After much research and delving into many biographies of the Queen’s early life, Jarrold realised the visual and emotional resonance of the V-E celebrations had a great impact on the young Elizabeth.

“The whole of Britain, including the Palace, was boarded up during the War,” says Jarrold. “Everyone was on rations and the princesses had barely been out in the real world. The troops were coming back. Suddenly there was an explosion of colour and light. So A Royal Night Out is a fairy tale in reverse. The princesses go from the Palace into the magical world of the crowds.”

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