Netflix The Crown Series 1 in Episodes 8 – 10 we are still dealing with the difficulties surrounding the love that Princess Margaret and the divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend share.
They are sad matters, for at this time the Archbishop was intractable on the matter of anyone divorced being married in the church, let alone a member of royalty. It would set far too dangerous a precedent.
Winston is being informed not to allow Elizabeth go on a tour to by pass Gibraltar. She has an upcoming trip to Australia and so goes to visit couturier Norman Hartnell for the first time. He informs here there are 100 dresses, 36 hats and fifty pairs of shoes to organise… “It’s about putting our best foot forward: he tells her.
It’s an absurd pantomime says Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they also fit him out for countless outfits to wear as well on what he calls their Commonwealth Roadshow.
Don’t read any more if you don’t want any spoilers.
Elizabeth The Queen Mother now has a retired Tommy as her own private secretary. “Can’t we give some things to Princess Margaret to do, she could deputize for me in Rhodesia by herself while I up to Scotland for a while”, she tells him.
Margaret’s talking to Townsend on the phone… 2 years is such a long time to wait, but it was what we agreed to do to help your sister.
Her mother tells her daughter the Queen to give her sister Margaret room to shine; you should be able to do that.
The Queen leaves for her Commonwealth Tour and Winston Churchill comes to say goodbye. “Let them look at you and only see the eternal”…he advises.
And she did, I stood on the corner of Market Street in Sydney opposite David Jones to wave to her as she passed, having slept with my family overnight on the pavement.
The Queen Mother goes back to Scotland where she grew up, she’s to stay in a cottage overlooking the sea where she rides along the beach with her hosts Lord and Lady Commander Reiner and Lady Doris her friend who informs her there is a castle along the coast for sale. It is the Castle of Mey.
The loss of the husband, the loss of a home, the loss of motherhood as daughters become adults has had a big effect on her life. Then there is the loss of the household, the loss of the Crown and the loss of purpose…all gone… all taken all away. No wonder she’s feeling discombobulated.
Margaret summons Colonel Charteris as she wants to make her own adjustments to a speech written for her sister, which she is to give in her absence overseas… but the speech has been carefully calibrated.
“It’s not the monarchy’s place to entertain” he tells her “… you are there in her place so you should deliver the speech as it is because you are representing her.”
When it happens Margaret cannot resist and adds in her own words. Simon Charteris is horrified by her colourful character embellishments.
The Duke wants the Queen to cancel her trip to Gibraltar where trouble seems to be brewing, but the Queen won’t because ”for better for worse the crown has landed on my head” she says “and I say we go”. 15 ships of the Royal Navy accompany her as the situation has become perilous politically…but the Queen insists she’s not going to live her life in fear.
On the road in Australia the Queen confesses to the Duke it might be prudent to cancel some of the 58 towns in Australia in 57 days, a lot of it in 100-degree heat, but in reality it probably won’t happen.
The Queen develops a spasm in her cheek from smiling too much and the Dr says….” I could inject the infected area, which is not a long-term solution… and you have to be careful of soup”. Very puzzling.
The Duke is complaining bitterly about the frenetic nature of their tour… and goads’ her so much the Queen loses her temper and chases him out of the house only to find the press waiting to take controversial photos of them both. She goes to the gate to talk to them, to appeal to their better nature and overwhelmed, they oblige.
The Queen Mother meanwhile tours the Castle of Mey, which has neither electricity nor bathrooms…I would sooner make a gift of it… the owner who is totally unaware of who she is, and he tells her he’s so embarrassed, but what if I just charge you 100 pounds… and not surprisingly, she buys it.
Winston Churchill after Princess Margaret’s disastrous speech is dressing her down “…you are not meant to be you” he says “they have come to see the Crown”. And Winston orders the palace send someone to bring her mother back from Scotland, because he doesn’t feel Margaret is up to the job.
As the owner of Castle May walks her back along the beach the man from London comes to find her and wants her to return to London immediately. The owner now feels mortified he’s been treating this lady he likes just as he does the rest of his acquaintances and friends, which is what she has enjoyed.
Home once more, the Winston Churchill arrives to congratulate Her Majesty The Queen on her tour of Commonwealth countries being an unqualified triumph. “Your courage and conviction prevailed” he tells her and then tells her about her sister’s disastrous speech.
Margaret is summoned and officially led into the room where the Queen meets people officially. She informs her sister she was representing the Monarchy, which should shine, not the monarch.
“You will have to apologize to those people you insulted. You have a role… and you have freedom, which you can enjoy if you choose to do so”. She demands Margaret give her word that apologies will be made by those insulted by her actions in the Queen’s absence.
In Episode Nine, Winston is out in his garden painting ‘en plein air’. It’s his 80 the birthday on the first day of parliament, when he learns an official portrait of him is to be painted by Graham Sutherland, a who’s a modernist. Being a traditionalist himself, that doesn’t go down too well.
Sutherland arrives at Chartwell to meet Winston Churchill where his wife Clementine thinks he was a bit of a Heathcliff. Following him is Sir Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary who wants to talk to him about his remaining leader. He has come to bid him to stand down and they quarrel.
Sutherland arrives to sketch him… sitting in his studio in his wartime boiler suit, where he gives him hell, continually dozing off. “You are not just painting me”… he tells him, “…you are also painting the office too… remember that” he barks.
It’s Winston’s 80th when he unveils the portrait, and he rejects it…. and the artist who begs him not to over react. Decay, frailty, I can’t be blamed for what is.
Later Winston tells Clementine “He’s right I am that man in the painting, wretched and decaying…” and so he goes and resigns to the Queen.
She thanks him saying how he has been a remarkable servant to his country. He goes home and burns the portrait, which is today considered a lost masterpiece.
It’s the finale, it is 1936 as the Duke, and Duchess of York the Queen’s parents come to visit Edward and Mrs Simpson to talk about the decision Edward made to step down. You love her more than your country, family, more than your brother says the Duke.
Afterwards the Duke extracts a promise from his children Elizabeth and Margaret – “Promise me you will never put anyone above each other… you must never let each other down… you are sisters” he says. And they promise.
Back in the present Margaret is telling The Queen her sister I am still committed to Peter… you will keep your side of the bargain and so she tells her secretary to bring Group Captain Townsend home… she no longer needs my consent to marry.
The Queen doesn’t know it yet but she has a dilemma. She could put herself on a collision with the church of which she is the head.
Winston Churchill comes to Balmoral to see Her Majesty. He’s not well, and has to hide in the bathroom and take tablets. Not knowing she insists on him coming out on a walk with her. Decked out in galoshes, coat and scarf, she wants to talk to him about Margaret and Townsend, to whom she’s given her word.
Churchill discusses the matter with the senior members of his cabinet who are violently opposed. Princess Margaret would have to be married abroad and would have to move overseas to live like Edward, renouncing all her titles and income.
Kinder more tolerant attitude to marriage and divorce is required. The Press are in pursuit of the story and the car containing Margaret and Peter Townsend, who are going to stay at the estate of friends at Allenby Park.
The Queen is meeting with the PM now Sir Anthony Eden… “you’re all asking me to break a promise to my sister and my late father” she tells him.
Archbishop of Canterbury, York, Durham, Winchester and Wells are consulted and come to see the Queen. Marriage is a Sacrament of God and there are no circumstances for the remarriage of divorced persons.
You are Defender of the Faith she is reminded. The agony you feel will never leave you is the advice she is given by the Duke of Windsor. The sad matters have come to a head.
And so suddenly The Queen finds herself inviting Margaret to come and talk with her again.
“I have asked you here to tell you I have given the matter a great deal of thought” she says…”your marriage to Peter… it doesn’t come naturally to speak like this so let me finish… everyone, court, cabinet and the church are against the marriage and now I have realised as Queen that I have no choice. I cannot allow you to marry Peter and remain part of this family. It’s official”
“Despite the pledge you made to our father and to me” Margaret reminds her. Without him I am lost.
Later Group Captain Townsend makes his sad statement to the Press, that he and Margaret are no longer to marry.
Now only Elizabeth Regina rules… and until Season 2, we are left with her having a photographic session with The Crown.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016