Prince Charles visited the British Film Institute’s headquarters on London’s Southbank yesterday to attend an event marking the 40th anniversary of his patronage of the organisation.
As part of his visit the Prince of Wales had the opportunity to view rare archive footage of his great-great-great grandmother Queen Victoria’s final public appearance before her death in 1901 as well as some of the BFI’s Peter Sellers collection which features photographs from the Pink Panther movies.
Viewing the collection, Charles told Nathalie Morris, who oversees the BFI’s collection of filmmaker’s materials, that he had spent time on the set of one of the Pink Panther films, watching as the actors did ’18 takes’ causing the crew to dissolve ‘into hysteria’.
Charles is a known fan of the Pink Panther films and took evident delight in being shown promotional material from the movies – including photographs and cinema lobby posters – and Peter Sellers’ script from the Pink Panther Strikes Again which included handwritten notes by the comic actor. After viewing the collection Prince Charles confessed: “I have to say whenever I put one of these on it always raises my spirits.”
The Prince of Wales also met with young filmmakers from the BFI Academy which has sent students on apprenticeships with companies such as Lucasfilm, which produces the Star Wars franchise.
Actor David Oyelowo, famed for his role as Dr Martin Luther King in the film Selma joined the prince for the event and spoke about the assistance that BFI programmes give to the next generation of filmmakers, saying: “You need support, you need someone to say ‘you’re good enough’, you need someone to say ‘go for it’ and you need someone to actually support you to do it and those are all things I think the BFI recognise and are doing.”
Actor Tom Hiddleston, well known for his role as Loki in the Marvel films, was also in attendance and said the prince told him he had enjoyed the BBC drama The Night Manager (in which Hiddleston starred) “very much”. Speaking about the importance of the BFI and its collections, Hiddleston said: “The reason I believe in the BFI is because I believe in film as an art form. It began as a physical art form, it’s a chemical process, it’s capturing life with light.
“The prints of early film work that have enabled the art form to become what it’s become, light, sound, movement, are preserved by the BFI and without it we would lose it. So the silent Hitchcocks, the prints of Lawrence of Arabia, Brief Encounter (by) David Lean, all British film is standing on the shoulders of those titans so the preservation of that material is as important as preserving the work of the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate, it’s part of our national heritage.”
The British Film Institute is the UK’s leading organisation for film, TV and the moving image. BFI Southbank presents “a diverse programme of British and World cinema, including film and TV seasons, new releases and classic cinema, events and debates, premieres and festivals”.