Sir David Attenborough's heartfelt tribute to 'genuine' Queen Elizabeth - 'she was an expert at getting people to relax'

Sir David Attenborough, a longstanding friend of the Queen, has offered a poignant insight into working with Her Majesty

HM The Queen Elizabeth II Awards Baroness Boothroyd and Sir David Attenborough the Insignia of the Order of Merit
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sir David Attenborough has paid his respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II with a heartfelt tribute to Her Majesty.


Sir David Attenborough was born within weeks of the Queen in 1926 and has shared numerous TV appearances with her over the decades, as well as being knighted by Her Majesty in 1985. This led the pair to strike up a friendship, not just based on their love of animals and passion for championing conservation, but also a shared sense of humor.

Recalling his experiences working with the Queen, David praises the Queen's "genuine" character, saying he will miss her "precious laugh".

"If there was something funny she laughed in a genuine way”, he recalled, speaking with ITV News (opens in new tab). "She wasn’t putting it on and that made it very easy."

He continued to explain that the Queen's down-to-earth nature meant you always felt at ease in her presence, despite her intimidating credentials.

Queen Elizabeth II presents the Chatham House Prize 2019 to Sir David Attenborough

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“She was an expert at getting people to relax," he continued. "When you met her you were well-aware that you were in the presence of someone who was extremely important to our society and yet she made it seem that you were meeting another human being with exactly the same conditions that all human beings have.”

The broadcaster and naturalist also described his friendship with the Queen as “a great privilege” and something he was “delighted” to have experienced in the heartfelt tribute.

Her Majesty was also always "quick to see the joke" in professional scenarios, Sir David told the Press Association, as reported by The Independent (opens in new tab).

“If there was a technical hitch, she wanted to know what it was, and if it had a funny side, she was quick to see the joke," he said. 

“Yet not for one second could you forget that you were in the presence of someone who had willingly accepted enormous responsibility and dedicated her life to serving the nation – that you were, in short, in the presence of royalty. The whole nation is bereaved.”

As well as working together on projects such as The Queen's Green Planet - a 2018 ITV film that explored plans for the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, a legacy of national forest parks throughout the commonwealth - David also worked with the Queen on her Christmas speeches during the '80s and '90s as a producer.

Queen Elizabeth ll delivers her Christmas speech in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When speaking of working on the Christmas broadcasts, David recalled how Her Majesty became, “more and more skilled at maintaining a position, maintaining a way of behaving and speaking, and of mastering a brief and doing a job with conviction”.

While it remains unclear exactly what happens next following Queen Elizabeth II's death, it's thought that there will be a period of mourning with a series of arrangements, both public and private, that will commemorate her life and reign. The Queen's funeral is expected to take place in London in the coming weeks.

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren worked on the woman&home brand for four years before going freelance. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine.