Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Crown: Season 1, Episode 3- Windsor

"I know he's Winston Churchill and all that, but remember who you are!"

This episode plays a clever trick in constantly juxtaposing Elizabeth's first baby steps as monarch with the abdication, in flashback, and present day waspish emptiness of David, the former Edward VIII, with the now dying Queen Mary standing in judgement over everything. Alex Jennings is perfectly cast.

Elizabeth is now faced with the full weight of being Queen, dealing with her first red box still marked for "the King" and feeling nervous about her first audience with Churchill, who soon puts her right about how such things are done. But she's under pressure to ensure that the kids keep Phil's surname, and to stay in Clarence House rather than Buckingham Palace, both to please Phil and smooth her marriage, and both doomed, as we see.

It's interesting to see the character of Ernst Von Hannover, a reminder of the family's German roots who happily chats in German with Queen Mary. And it's ominous to see that Townsend's wife has left him; the affair between Margaret and himself, in the 1950s, is another thing that can only be doomed.

The unpopular David manages to do a little deal with his old friend Churchill, breaking the bad news about the surname and palace to the Queen in exchange for no cut in his allowance. Phil is not happy, feeling emasculated; these are days long before feminism. But most interesting is the chat between Elizabeth and David. He may have apologised to Albert for denying him an "ordinary" life, but Elizabeth has been denied one too. Although her definition of "ordinary" is not how most of us would use the word.

Good, well-constructed drama, and still gripping.

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