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The Queen's speech jitters

Watching the Queen's confident and heartfelt Christmas speech, it's hard to believe that it once made her - in her own words - "frightfully nervous."

In fact, Prince Philip even tried to calm her nerves by clowning around out of camera range. He once passed her a note saying: 'Remember the gnashing and wailing of teeth’, referring to a time he chased her through the palace corridors with a set of joke false teeth.

BBC executives also placed a notice on one of the cameras saying: ‘Smile please.’

However after almost 60 years, the Queen is now a natural at delivering her annual message.

Cameraman Philip Bonham Carter said: "Filming is pretty relaxed. The Queen is not at all nervous, never stumbles over a name and is incredibly good at it — a professional. We usually need only one take. It is not a jokey, slap-on-the-back time and it can be slightly nerve-racking because the broadcasts are serious stuff and she is often talking about wars and tragedies."

The Queen writes her own script with help from her husband and her private secretary.

Bonham Carter, who has worked on 36 of the Christmas broadcasts, revealed that things don't always go smoothly.

Describing an incident in 1987, he said: "The Queen was talking to the camera when suddenly I noticed a horse directly behind her head which was curling its lip, showing its teeth and looking as though it was mimicking her words. It also looked as if it was nibbling her ear.

"We had to re-shoot the scene. The Queen thought it was very funny."

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