Monday, 3 April 2017

The Crown: Season 1, Episode 7- Scientia Potentia Est

"No one wants a bluestocking or a college lecturer as Sovereign!"

One of the better episodes, this, making the point that not even all the privilege in the world can save one from 1950s misogyny and stereotyping- and, make no mistake, today is much the same but with the rough edges taken off. Women's rights may have advanced from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic but they are nevertheless in the Stone Age.

Back in little Lillibet's childhood, for example, even after she became heir presumptive, her education consisted solely of the Constitution, Bagehot (So that's how you pronounce the name! I had a similar epiphany with "Lascelles".) and all that. Nothing else. No history, literature, science, philosophy; and yet, her brief expert discourse to the professor hired to tutor her on the finer points of horse racing is clearly meant to imply that Elizabeth, so self-consciously uneducated and intimidated by all these successful and educated men (yes, men) who surround her, is not so much unintelligent as untested.

The other main strand to the episode is, of course, the astounding fact that Churchill had a couple of minor strokes during 1953 and that not only the Press but also the Queen was kept in the dark; no wonder that we Brits have since preferred our leaders to be rather less gerontocratic ever since. Worse, Churchill is only buggering on so that his preferred successor, Eden, can recover from crippling gallstone surgery. And the poor heath of both the prime minister and the foreign secretary is seen, especially by the Eisenhower era Americans, as a metaphor for national decline. Awkward.

We also get a disturbing clash over the choice of his replacement as royal secretary between Elizabeth and the forces of ossified conservatism in the shape of Lascelles; he seems to see anything other than bland, passive conformity as a slippery slope on the way to Abdication. But Elizabeth is clearly no Edward VIII.

We end with Elizabeth giving Churchill a delightful bollocking and Phil, hitherto unseen all episode, turning up as pissed as a fart having spent even more time away from his wife. All is not perfect in that marriage...

Good stuff.

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