How Queen Elizabeth's Paddington Appearance Was Inspired By Her Grandchildren

The United Kingdom pulled out the stops to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in 2022. It was the first time in history that there had been a monarch on the throne for 70 years, and there were parades and parties across the country in the queen's honor, including the first-ever corgi derby for the queen's Platinum Jubilee. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. 

While the queen wasn't able to attend all the events because of some health concerns, she notably took part in a delightful pre-recorded sketch with Paddington Bear that aired at The Platinum Party at the Palace. In the skit, the queen was having tea with Paddington before revealing that she too kept a marmalade sandwich close by in case of emergency. For Paddington, his emergency sandwich was in his hat. For the queen, she kept hers in her trademark Launer handbag. 

The queen kept her participation in the sketch a secret from her family.  However, it was evoking her family that helped the queen's performance; the director asked her to think about talking to her grandchildren when she delivered a key line.

The director wanted the queen to keep her line delivery light

Simon Farnaby played the butler in the Paddington Bear/Queen Elizabeth II sketch for the Platinum Jubilee, and he spilled the tea on the RHLSTP podcast about what it took to get the queen to play the role just right. 

After Paddington revealed he always kept a marmalade sandwich for emergencies, the queen was saying the line, "So do I," in a more militant way than the director wanted. So while the queen was, well, the queen and therefore would perhaps be intimidating to direct, the director chanced it anyway to get the right tone. 

Farnaby described how the director had Queen Elizabeth think of saying the line to her grandkids to get the right tone: "'Ma'am, could you just be a bit gentler?' And she'd be so sweet and she'd go, 'I'm so sorry — yes, of course,' [...] 'Like you're talking to your grandchildren.'"

The queen ended up nailing the line, and Farnaby explained why the short skit perhaps was a unique challenge for the queen. After all, she spent much of her adult life in the public eye and delivering speeches. Farnaby said after they finished filming, Queen Elizabeth revealed that she was used to speaking with prepared remarks as compared to memorized lines. 

The skit ends with Queen Elizabeth II and Paddington tapping out the rhythm of "We Will Rock You" by Queen, which was then picked up by the live band and drum corps at the concert.

Queen Elizabeth kept her Paddington Bear appearance quiet

Queen Elizabeth II's skit with Paddington Bear was kept a closely guarded secret before its debut at the Platinum Party at the Palace. The queen's family didn't even know about the surprise appearance, which was definitely worth it — all you have to do is look at the laughs and smiles from William, Prince of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales along with their two eldest kids, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as they watched their great-grandmother act opposite the beloved children's character.

"Her Majesty is well known for her sense of humor," a palace spokesperson said, according to People, "so it should be no surprise that she decided to take part in tonight's sketch. There was an interest in the filming and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear to tea was just too much fun to miss." The sketch went on to win a BAFTA for Memorable Moment in 2023.

Queen Elizabeth has unexpectedly appeared alongside other famous characters in sketches before. For the London Olympics in 2012, during her Diamond Jubilee year, she filmed at Buckingham Palace alongside her corgis and Daniel Craig in character as James Bond. With the magic of the movies, she even appeared to skydive from a helicopter into the Olympic stadium.