A LOT to discuss here. This episode is primarily about Edward abdicating so that he could run off with Wallis Simpson — which is extremely romantic until you start thinking about how that was kinda selfish and they were basically completely terrible people and suspected Nazi sympathetizers; the Nazis continue to ruin absolutely everything — and his subsequent return for his brother’s funeral, during which he is butthurt about how his family isn’t sufficiently nice and/or financially generous whilst being absolutely HORRIBLE about them. I have many thoughts, including:
a) abdicating takes some balls; likewise, HOO BOO was Edward a nasty piece of work.
b) Mary of Teck is, in many ways, my hero and I wish we could bend the rules of space and time and fiction and biography so that she and the Dowager Countess of Grantham could hang out and be sassy old cranks together, paving the way for my own time as a sassy old crank, which is due to arrive in approximately 15 minutes.
c) Last week, Heather texted me, “You are getting some really good furniture in episode three,” and she was correct. I’ve never seen so many fantastic gallery walls in my life (I mean, other than when Heather and I toured actual Buckingham Palace when we were researching The Royal We, but you know what I mean). Holy cow, the interiors of this episode have been a balm to my soul.
d) One of you made the very salient point last week that this show was written 100% by a man — Peter Morgan, no relation — and it’s been directed solely by men. That may explain why it’s giving extremely short shrift to the interpersonal relationships between the women on the show. I am enjoying The Crown greatly, but so far it’s quite concerned with Philip’s feelings and struggles with being emasculated by his relationship (his decision to take up flying, his insistence on his children taking his surname contrary to what had been decided thirty years earlier on that front, his crankiness over having to move to the palace where the monarch has always lived just because he feels at home in Clarence House, his general but what about meeee attitude) and has given literally no space at all to the relationship Elizabeth has with Margaret, or her mother, and it has solely removed the women in her life from the story (she had many ladies-in-waiting). I think Philip’s issues are interesting and pertinent ones, but overall, I think this is a flaw and once you see it, it’s hard to unsee it. Philip’s Sad Man Struggles are getting a huge amount of oxygen, and Elizabeth’s — despite her being ostensibly one of our main protagonists — remain somewhat oblique and are mainly framed by how she feels about his feelings, rather than what her own feelings are. Please note, I have only seen through this episode so far and I hold out hope that this issue improves, but as of here, it’s a problem for me.
e) Philip is all worked up about re-fashioning it The Royal House Mountbatten, after his surname (relatively newly adopted; he borrowed it from his maternal grandparents when he naturalized — and dropped his other titles — before the engagement). At the end of the episode Elizabeth announces it will remain the House of Windsor. Surely this will come up later, but for clarity now: In 1960, around the birth of Andrew, QE2 mildly amended this to state that although House of Windsor remains in place, their direct descendants would use the hyphenate Mountbatten-Windsor as a surname, which I guess means Philip was a pill about this for eight years. (Technically, it was meant only for the Queen’s male-line descendants who don’t have royal titles, but they all seem to have used it at one time or another, however briefly; Anne’s marriage certificate to Mark Phillips, for example, and on Andrew’s to Fergie. William used it to file a lawsuit in France over the topless photos of Kate. You can get a bit more of the skinny here.) I’d love to see a mini-series explaining why Philip spends so much time being surprised by and cranky about stuff that was 100% predictable.
f) I appreciate how all the women in this episode look as if they haven’t washed their hair in three days. That’s not sarcastic. It feels historically accurate.
AND A NOTE: I don’t know why these slides are loading sort of tiny. If you want to see the interiors larger, click on “view original” and go to town.
AND ANOTHER THING: If you’ve missed the first two recaps of The Crown, you can find them here.