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The Crown #6: Gelignite

A Bit Of Fluff

Although its title bears the promise of some action at last, Gelignite is unfortunately as explosive as a soggy crumpet. Basking in the dual spotlight of her newly acquired status as the most famous woman in the world and the dashing handsome couple she forms with her consort, Elizabeth Regina starts unscrewing lightbulbs in the air at the back of her Rolls-Royce while crowds deliriously cheer her appearance. But opening the Pandora’s box with her public coronation has unleashed, among other barbarian monsters, the threat of a scandal about Princess Margaret’s willingness to marry not only a commoner, but a divorced one. The Press is quick at interpreting her picking a bit of fluff off Peter Townsend’s lapel as a cue to further intimacy. The tricky situation has to be defused right away.

Remember the Egyptian unrest, which figured prominently in Sir Winston’s preoccupations a couple of episodes ago? You’re forgiven if you don’t. Some kind of an historical context has to be delivered though, so Nasser deposes King Farouk, allowing HRH Philip, Duke of Edimbourg, to have a casually racist brush with foreign affair while sipping brandy with his likeminded pals. Later on, a curious scene of French cancan pans over bottles of Dubonnet: the Empire, see is dancing on the edge of an abyss akso known as misalliance.

A double date brings together the royal couple and the illegitimate one. Margaret spills the beans. Philip will have none of this nonsense and turns his back to his lifelong friend / flying instructor. Elizabeth, decidedly a hot head, promises not to make too much of a hell of her sister’s life before she turns 25 and is therefore allowed to marry who she wants. The problem with that particular queen, though, is she has a very effective embedded cooling system for that hot head, and ready as she may appear to break every rule, she will do nothing of the sort before taking advice.

According to the plot, what goes wrong does so because Peter outshines Her Majesty during a visit to lovely, sunny Northern Ireland. The Queen is having no joy not being the center of attention, and one can’t help but wonder how much of her regal life is spent watching reruns of herself. Townwend is quickly dispatched to the outer realm (Brussels, in that instance), much to Margaret’s furor. “You are cruel”, she spits at her sister. Ouch.

It’s good to see the Windsors discovering at last their domain of excellence: gossip, scandals and misalliances of all kind. They obviously lack the consumed practice they have acquired by now in smoothing the feathers of increasingly disatisfied subjects, still superbly ignored by the writer. He however condescends to show phone operators repeatedly plugging in antiquated switchboards, like the brave bolts and clogs they are. Two scenes elicit giggles: a piece of British love-making in which a woman in tweed and jodhpur kisses a man in a Barbour; and yet another ludicrous parallel editing between London and Rhodesia, as another concession to a life beyond the Kingdom. At the end, Prince Philip leaves his wife for yet another brawl with his buddies and she walks alone accross the vast halls of Buckingham Palace. Poor little rich Queen.

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