The Queen and the Coup (2020)


Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daily Sketch/Shutterstock (1089524a)

In 1953, a recently crowned Queen Elizabeth was unwittingly used in a secret attack on Iran’s democracy.

Using newly declassified documents, Channel 4 tells the story for the first time.


The Queen and the Coup retells the story of the 1953 coup d’etat in Iran. Under the influence and instruction of MI6 and the CIA, the democratic prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was replaced by the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as a bulwark against the USSR and to preserve western oil interests. The ramifications of the operation are still being felt today, from Gaza to Yemen, a trail of bloodshed and misery lasting nearly 70 years.

The new documentary is based on the work of two British historians, professors Richard Aldrich and Rory Cormac, who have been scouring the US archives for documents released by the State Department. There is no shortage of grisly meddling to go over, and Aldrich and Cormac, the main talking heads between all the archive footage, are obviously enthused by their subject. The coup was a pivotal moment for British foreign affairs. If the final years and aftermath of the Second World War had not already done so, it proved that empire was over. Diplomatic work of this kind was no longer possible without American support. Although the plan was initiated by Clement Attlee, it was continued by Churchill after his re-election in 1951.

Production & Filming Details

  • Presenter(s):
  • Director(s): Paul Elston.
  • Producer(s): Simon Berthon, Cherry Dorrett, Jacqui Edwards, Paul Elston, and Jyoti Mehta.
  • Writer(s): Paul Elston.
  • Music:
  • Cinematography: Robert Shacklady and Chris Vile.
  • Editor(s): Garry Crystal.
  • Production: Brave New Media.
  • Distributor(s): Channel 4.
  • Release Date: 14 June 2020.
  • Running time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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