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The Crown: Sleep, Dearie, Sleep

Older Queen Elizabeth: But what about the life I put aside? The woman I put aside when I became Queen?
Younger Queen Elizabeth: What sort of question is that? For years now, there has been just one Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth. If you went looking for Elizabeth Windsor, you wouldn't find her. She's gone. Long gone. You buried her years ago.

Episode description: “The Queen gives Charles the green light to wed Camilla. Tasked with planning her own funeral ahead of her 80th birthday, she faces an existential crisis.”

Unless something unexpected happens, The Crown has come to a close. Shows like this often end with the death of the main character, but that would have required following the royal family through an additional 16 years. I thought the focus on her funeral, as she is nearing her 80th birthday, was a clever workaround. It gave a sense of finality while the protagonist is still alive but also gave the opportunity to encourage reflection on her many years on the throne (note the jubilee in the previous episode could also have served as a vehicle).

It's not all retrospect. Prince Charles is petitioning to be allowed to marry the love of his life, and in a sign of accepting that she will not be on the throne forever, Queen Elizabeth works to make it happen. The marriage is awkward because of religious reasons, and so the two have a civil ceremony followed by a church blessing. Apparently, wickedness is a theme during that blessing, because Charles and Camilla were adulterers for so long. I don’t know if the words about wickedness were real, but I assume they were, as there were many witnesses.

Before Queen Elizabeth approves the marriage, we get an interaction between Prince William and Prince Harry when the Queen asks them how they feel about their dad marrying Camilla. Prince William talks over Prince Harry, but the Queen still knows how Harry feels. This interaction feels invented.

I really enjoyed Queen Elizabeth’s speech at the wedding reception. This is the second time we’ve seen her be really witty and funny; the previous moment was in "Ritz," when she was toasting her sister.

The retrospect allows The Crown to bring back the earlier versions of Queen Elizabeth, and even a sweet salute from the dancing, uniformed Princess Elizabeth we met in the episode "Ritz." Again, The Crown emphasizes the theme of how much she has sacrificed, giving up herself in order to serve as monarch. I would have liked someone to remind The Crown that any person who is approaching 80 has been impacted by the choices they have made. I also find it hard to feel sorry for anyone born to such rank and wealth, even though I admire her for serving her country well. I also don’t think she would be going through such agonies either. Instead, it feels a little as if The Crown is pandering again, just as it has so much of this season. On the other hand, service and sacrifice have been the themes of the series, so perhaps I should be more forgiving.

Title musings. “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep” refers to the lullaby suggested by “Pipes,” the bagpipe player. It suggests the end of an era. A decent choice, although Queen Elizabeth will of course reign nearly 20 more years after this.

Bits and pieces

Approaching her 80th birthday is a big rounding error, as Queen Elizabeth turned 80 on April 21, 2006. As Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles married on April 9, 2005, and such things take planning, you can see The Crown was loose with its numbers, especially when there’s a bit of dialogue where they suggest she will be 80 in months. Well, yes, that’s true, but it’s more like 18 months and not three.

I understand that one big impediment to the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was the Queen Mother. Her husband only became king because of the fact that divorced people were not permitted to remarry while their ex-spouses were still alive (although Diana is dead, Andrew Parker Bowles was and is, at least when I write this, still alive). Of course, the Queen Mother died in 2002, and the “young” couple did not wed until 2005.

I liked the discussion of an exit strategy for Iraq. Too often one starts something without any ideas on how to end something. Should have an exit strategy for nearly everything: wars, product launches, relationships, even marriages.

Although the idea that the Queen was considering stepping down in favor of Charles or even William was a central point for this episode – I understand she never considered it. However, the idea was discussed in the press. I have read that King Charles III is considering stepping down when he turns 80.

Prince Harry really should have known not to be seen wearing a swastika, but I agree with Tony Blair, this should be considered a youthful mistake.

During the course of watching The Crown, I have become more and more anti-monarchy, which is probably due to seeing the rise of people and places who want dictators and strong men rather than any reaction to the series. I strongly believe that people should not be above the law, and this certainly affected my enjoyment of the show. However, I checked in with an Australian friend and she said she finds the monarchy to be a stabilizing influence for the times the government is not so good. So, there are multiple points of view.

While I was working on this, I learned that King Charles III was just diagnosed with cancer. Although I am not a monarchist, I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Quotes

Prince Charles: You always said, Mummy, that you couldn't do the job without Papa by your side. That he's your strength and stay. Camilla is my strength. And my stay. I couldn't do it without her.
Queen Elizabeth: I will reflect on it, take advice, and give you an answer soon.

Queen Elizabeth: My preference would be a quiet service in Scotland, out of sight, and over in 20 minutes.
Lord Chamberlain: Perfectly understandable. But this is the funeral of what we expect to be the longest-serving monarch in history. People will want to celebrate your reign and mark the end of an era, not just here, but all around the world.

Queen Elizabeth: Whatever short-term risk the marriage may present to the integrity of the Church, one has to imagine it would do less damage than if I were to die – well, it is going to happen one day – and my heir acceded to the throne while living in sin.

Prince Harry: I can't believe you caved like that.
Prince William: I didn't cave. I'm just being a realist.
Prince Harry: And changing your tune, not saying what you feel.
Prince William: That's what being a realist is.

Prime Minister Tony Blair: An apology, followed by a period of contrition should pave the way for forgiveness.
Queen Elizabeth: Is that the advice you'll be giving yourself over Iraq? I think we can agree things are not working out too well over there.
Prime Minister Tony Blair: My hope is that the democratic elections scheduled for the end of this month will form the beginnings of an exit strategy that should allow us to close this chapter and move on.
Queen Elizabeth: Exit strategy.

Queen Elizabeth: I suppose one has to start these things with an introduction. For those of you who don't know me, I am the mother of the groom. Today has been a memorable day, with a single happy event bringing the whole nation together. The Grand National steeplechase finished 20 minutes ago, and the results were as follows. Hedgehunter, the 7-1 favorite, ridden by Ruby Walsh, trained by Willie Mullins, won the race by 14 lengths. Royal Eclair finished second, Simply Gifted third. In other news, there is a small family wedding in the Windsor area – which the police are keeping their eyes on. Chief Constable Darren Dedds said he was hoping that displays of excessive exuberance would be kept to a minimum. … So, now will you all raise your glasses to the young couple?

Overall rating

Although I admire Queen Elizabeth, and I did learn some British history, I am not sorry to see this series end. I did think this episode was well done with the funeral planning as the vehicle for the finish. Three out of four Scottish lullabies.

Victoria Grossack loves math, birds, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

2 comments:

  1. Victoria, congratulations on completing this entire series!

    As the kids say: slay, queen!

    (It's a compliment.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Victoria, congratulations indeed. You started covering this series in 2017, and reviewed SIXTY EPISODES. I'm proud to have them here on Doux. You did a terrific job.

    I stopped watching The Crown during Olivia's reign. As much as I like her, I just stopped feeling the series. Now I'm a bit sorry I didn't stick with it, because I liked Imelda a lot and this is an excellent series finale. It brought me to tears three times: When she asked "Pipes" to choose something for her funeral and he played the lament for her; when she was watching the filmstrips (I lost someone close recently and still can't bear to look at photos); and at the end.

    It's hard not to feel some sympathy for their bizarre lives and the restrictions they have to deal with, but Victoria, I so agree with you. I'm so very, very tired of the rich and powerful.

    Thank you again, Victoria, for covering this series for us.

    ReplyDelete

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