Why Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee Sketch with Paddington Bear Almost Didn’t Work Out

Her co-star spills the royal tea

queen elizabeth platinum jubilee paddington universal
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Brace your royal-loving selves and allow yourself a moment to flash back to the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrating her 70-year reign in June 2022. Specifically, the part during the Platinum Party at the Palace where she was joined by Paddington Bear for tea and marmalade sandwiches in a surprise (and subsequently iconic) video skit.

Actor Simon Farnaby—who played the role of the butler alongside the queen and a security guard in both Paddington and Paddington 2—recently dropped by the RHLSTP podcast to chat with host Richard Herring, sharing what it was like to work with the queen—and why the pre-recorded royal skit almost fell apart.

“I think I’m allowed to talk about [it] because we haven’t been allowed to talk about it,” Farnaby begins, adding that, for quite some time, journalists were at his door daily begging for insight on what went down during that day working with Her Majesty. (For a time, Farnaby was restricted from talking about his experience, per the palace.)

queen elizabeth skit paddington bear
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The difficulty actually centered around the queen’s response to Paddington pulling a marmalade sandwich out of his hat, noting that he always keeps one on hand for emergencies. The monarch wittily replies, “So do I,” as she pops open her beloved black handbag and reveals she carries the same sandwich as Paddington inside.

But the issue, per Farnaby, is that Queen Elizabeth just couldn’t nail her line, delivering it a bit too harshly. “The director would come in, Adam, lovely guy: ‘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,’” Farnaby says. Several takes later, she still wasn’t getting it. “[Adam would] go, ‘Like you’re talking to your grandchildren.’ She’d say, ‘Oh, of course. I’m so sorry,’” Farnaby goes on.

Before long, Farnaby really thought they were going to have to call it—but at the last second, it all came together. “Eventually, I think she just got tired and just went, ‘So do I,’ and it was really sweet and it was lovely and everyone was relieved,” he says.

But then, things took another turn. “I needlessly went up to her and said, ‘Ma’am, that was fantastic,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank you.’ And I went, ‘You’re a very good actress’ and she went, ‘Well, of course—I do it all the time.’” This was the moment that caught Farnaby off guard. “‘Oh! You mean, like playing the part of the queen?’ And she went, ‘I beg your pardon?’”

As Farnaby describes it to Harrington, he lost all his confidence at this stage, but then the monarch clarified her original comment: “‘No, I meant at Christmas, when I do my speeches, but then it’s all written down, you see, and now I have to remember it, so I find it quite hard,’” Farnaby revealed, recalling Queen Elizabeth’s words.

queen elizabeth paddington bear
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Anyone else feeling extreme relief that the queen ultimately nailed the line? That the skit wasn’t canceled? That Paddington Bear—and his beloved marmalade sandwich—is now forever intertwined with the legacy of the late monarch? Yes on all counts for us.

Now, if you need us, we’ll be rewatching that iconic sketch and treasuring the new insight on Queen Elizabeth’s filming process.

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Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...