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The Crown #5: Smoke And Mirrors

The Royal Rejects

As Miranda Priestly says in The Devil Wears Prada, “by all means, move at a glacial pace!”. This episode finally zeroes on the Queen’s coronation after hours of beating around the bush through flashbacks to Papa’s reign and family crisis. What becomes stricking by now is the absolute inexistence of Charles and Anne, the royal rejects. The writer, fully absorbed the completion of his thesaurus of tongue in cheek British understatement (“Shall we f*ck?”. No, please.), has simply forgotten to write the Queen’s children in.

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edimburgh, rightfully feels like a sissy relegated as he is to help his wife do the queening; he obtains full control of the Coronation Committee as a restauration of his manhood. His project is to let the good people of the Commonwealth participate to the event, much to the horror of Sir Winston and his posse of old Eton choir boys.

By the titular smoke and mirrors, the arc of Episode 4 acknowledges the Duke’s sudden switch from casual racist snob to parangon of democracy; the least that can be said is that it comes off a bit odd. Anyway, without ever formulating the idea he’s the one to get the ceremony recorded and broadcast (an historic footnote that seems mostly innacurate), even thought the common people might, gasp, watch it while EATING. Shocking, really.

Can you imagine that at some point during the 50s Elizabeth Regina was the symbol of a new era and the very face of modernity? The postulate of the whole series seems hardly believable nowadays. Truer to life is the Duke of Windsor as a freudian repressed memory, once more returning to his family of hyenas, this time to bid farewell to his ailing mother. The impossible posh Windsor makes a fool of himself in the People pages with She-The-Name-Of-Which-Can’t-Be-Said, their Paris residence adding insult to injury.

Protocol swiftly humiliates him in retribution. Queen Mary dies on cue. Suddenly everyone wears fancy hats. An hilarious, involontary cliffhanger showing Windsor blowing his bagpipes in the wind attempts at some Skyfall follow-up revenge against the family “pusillanimity and vindictiveness”. Britain, Britain, Britain!

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