Elizabeth’s only daughter said it was “serendipity” she was at Balmoral before her mother’s death and she “weirdly felt a sense of relief” when the Imperial State Crown was removed from her coffin – symbolic of her role passing to Charles.
The princess praises Queen Camilla for her “outstanding” understanding of her role as consort and the difference it makes to the King, who she says is learning new things about the institution of the monarchy.
The 90-minute documentary Charles III: The Coronation Year, to be screened on Boxing Day, is narrated by Helena Bonham Carter and features contributions from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and close friends, and gives a behind-the-scenes look at rehearsals for the coronation.
Speaking about her mother the late Queen, Anne says in the documentary: “I think there was a moment when she felt that it would be more difficult if she died at Balmoral. And I think we did try and persuade her that that shouldn’t be part of the decision making process.”
She concluded with a laugh: “So I hope she felt that that was right in the end, because I think we did.”
It appears at the end of her life the late Queen was still concerned with duty and others, not wanting her passing in Scotland to cause added issues for those implementing London Bridge – the codename for the arrangements for her lying in state, vigils and a grand state funeral.
Different plans were in place if the Queen had died at any one of her main royal residences, from Sandringham to Windsor Castle, and even overseas, with the arrangements for Scotland given the codename Operation Unicorn.
The voice of Huw Edwards is heard in the documentary announcing the Queen’s death on the BBC. The broadcaster has been suspended by the corporation while it conducts an investigation into allegations made against him earlier this year.
Anne tells the documentary: “My mother’s funeral in St George’s, he takes the crown off the coffin – I rather weirdly felt a sense of relief, somehow that’s it, finished. That responsibility being moved on.”
At that moment crown jeweller Mark Appleby removed the crown, sceptre and orb from Queen Elizabeth’s coffin before it was lowered into the royal vault as the royal family watched.
The past 12 months have been a period of momentous change for Charles who has completed a number of firsts from carrying out his first overseas state visit to Germany to hosting South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa for the inaugural inward state visit of his reign.
Charles waited all his life to fulfil his destiny and be crowned King, and at the age of 75 his Carolean era is in its infancy compared with the seven decades of the late Queen’s reign.
Talking about the succession, Anne goes on to say: “To be honest I’m not sure that anybody can really prepare themselves for that kind of change… not easily. And then the change happens and you go ‘OK, I now have to get on with it’.
HM Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral: Catherine, Princess of Wales
“Monarchy is a 365 days a year occupation, it doesn’t stop because you change monarchs, for whatever reason.”
The documentary shows the King giving a speech at the state banquet staged in honour of President Ramaphosa during his visit last autumn.
Anne comments: “It’s a big operation, the amount of entertaining is much bigger than even they recognised, but I think my brother is learning things about the organisation that he perhaps was very vaguely aware of before, and he’s enjoying that too.”
The documentary features candid moments in the build up to the coronation with rehearsals filmed showing the King relaxed and joking with Archbishop Welby and his son and heir the Prince of Wales.
Camilla is seen by Charles’ side through much of the documentary and the princess says about the Queen: “I’ve known her a long time, off and on.
“Her understanding of her role and how much difference it makes to the King has been absolutely outstanding, and this role is not something she would have been a natural for, but she does it really well.
“And she provides that change of speed and tone, she’s equally modern.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife are shown spending time at Balmoral as the King’s guests, and the politician says: “I think it’s been an incredibly successful year.
“I mean, I’ve had the pleasure of, and the privilege of, spending time with him over that year, and I’ve just seen him do it in his own way, as of course he should do, and do it brilliantly.”
Charles III: The Coronation Year will be screened on Boxing Day at 6.50pm on BBC One and iPlayer.