My apologies for spoilers, but this is a depiction of events in the past century, showing some period in 1952. In this episode we cover the return of the king who abdicated, the Duke of Windsor, for his brother’s funeral. We see the frustration of Philip, who wants to keep his last name and who doesn’t want to live at Buckingham Palace. We hear plenty of complaints about the Duke of Windsor’s wife, the American divorcée, but we also see that Princess Margaret also has an illicit involvement. Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill have their first official meetings.
This episode, which cannot be spanning too much time chronologically, was too internal for my taste. I would have preferred to learn more about what was going on in the world instead of watching Princess Margaret hide behind a curtain so as not to be discovered with her dear Peter Townsend. Even if Philip really didn’t want to live at Buckingham Palace, I have trouble feeling any sympathy. Boo hoo! You have to live in a different palace now! I mean, it’s not as if he didn’t know his wife was direct in line for the throne and that the monarch always lives at Buckingham Palace!
I also didn’t like the bickering and sniping about the Duke of Windsor. His family seemed annoyed about his coming to his brother’s funeral, but they probably would have complained just as much if he stayed away. I understand that the widow of King George VI blamed the Duke of Windsor for her husband’s early death, but I believe it was caused mostly by cigarettes.
There were a few hints about the situation of the outside world, with a mention of rationing and the fact that Churchill is postponing the coronation in order to remain PM as long as possible. But not much. I did like the scenes between Elizabeth and Churchill – especially when he talks about how wonderful past Queens of England have been, and how delighted he is that, at the end of his career, he can watch a new queen starting her reign.
Bits and pieces
The title works in two obvious ways: the episode is about the Duke of Windsor and about Elizabeth’s decision to keep that last name.
Alex Jennings, who plays the Duke of Windsor, played Prince Charles in the 2006 movie, The Queen. I guess a British actor who resembles the royal family – the long face – has an easier time finding work.
Queen Mary: No one wants to hear from a private individual.
Duke of Windsor: What a sunless, frozen hell we both escaped in England. What a bunch of ice-veined monsters my family are. How cold and thin-lipped – how dumpy and plain – how joyless and loveless.
I expect the shenanigans of Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend were real, and I expect that Prince Philip really didn’t want to live in Buckingham Palace. I don’t have much sympathy for either, but I can’t knock The Crown down too much for showing what really happened. I did like how Elizabeth and her uncle the Duke of Windsor seemed to get along; even if he gave up the throne, he’s probably the only person she knows now who can truly understand the burden. Two and a half dukes out of four.
Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.