My fellow lovers of historical romance and period pieces: OUR DAY IS HERE. Netflix dropped a full season of their new series, The Crown this weekend, and don’t even act like you thought we were going to ignore it.
I am watching and recapping it one episode at a time because I love a good savor. I’m going to try to get to it as quickly as possible so we can all be on the same page, but since this is like real people fanfiction, and we can all google what actually happened between Princess Margaret and that equerry, spoilers aren’t a thing. At least not here on TN. You’re not going to hurt my feelings if you tell me in the comments when Queen Mary dies. But don’t do that; she’s my fave.
*Stefon whisper* It has everything … mid-century mores, your grandparent’s idea of sexual naughtiness, super gorgeous full-skirted dresses, and all the tweed. Chanel haute couture and unauthorized filth. But here’s the other (less important) stuff I loved.
Real or Not Real?
There’s this cognitive dissonance when watching historical dramatizations of the not so distant past. It’s the difference between the old people we know and the young hotness that they used to be. It’s not difficult to imagine that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth used to be mostly attractive young co-eds, but it IS hard to believe that the stodgy, stoic pair are the cute affianced one we are introduced to in this episode. But I relish it almost more than that dress Elizabeth wears in Malta. It’s one of the main reasons I love regency romance and historical fiction and period pieces. The perspective of how many things change and yet never change. Cute smirky tall blondes make virgins blush in any era.
I don’t consider myself an expert on the British royals. Yes, I grew up believing that Wills was the most handsome prince ever, and we all deserved a shot at winning him over with our confident, American wiles. But I never feel more like a Anglophilian newb than when I can’t suss out who most of these folks actually are. I know George VI, but I need to be honest. Without The King’s Speech I would have no idea what in the world he was doing in the first scene trying not to stammer. I honestly would have thought he was about to keel over. What I do know without a quick google search is that I don’t think it’s possible for Eileen Atkins (Queen Mary) to look more perfectly like a Windsor. Not like the actual Queen Mary, but definitely like her sons.
Your Royal Adorableness
We are introduced to Elizabeth as she holds vigil outside the sausage party that’s knighting her betrothed THE DAY BEFORE her wedding. Her anxiety gives way to the cutest amount of embarrassed glee I’ve ever seen. The “Sign myself away” or “win the greatest prize on earth” conversation is everything I need in a courtly romance. Keep her on her toes, Philip, and then swoop in with that sneak attack kiss … so cute. So sweet. She’s so satisfactorily mortified and he’s so smirky. At this point I want them to have the cutest, best, and most passionate marriage of all time. This scene is the third act of every romance novel, and I am anticipating all the good stuff is about to come.
Then comes the wedding and what I really wasn’t expecting from this show: real romance. As much as I really wanted to see Philip bend down and tell Elizabeth, “You look beautiful” like William did for Kate at their wedding, these vows were even cuter than that. Her nervous delivery was so virginal and sweet when coupled with his knowing smirksmanship and efforts to communicate with her silently. #RoyalCute
I also love the look at their party life, their early marriage. I think the sexiest stage of any marriage is the one I’m currently experiencing (so … middling parent years), but this one is definitely second best. Because it’s the only other one I’ve had. Also Clarence House reminds me of His Royal Secret and then I get kind of horny.
I love this aspect of the show so far. It’s the honeymoon phase, most literally. Of course, I keep getting flashes of the cutting tableau of who they will become, the family they will sire and that warm feeling sours. “That would all be very antiseptic indeed.” It IS antiseptic, now. So what are we in for as we go?
What I know about British Politics Is
… that Jeremy Northam makes everything better, but not this. I don’t know who he is playing and I don’t care. Because why he isn’t playing that stoic equerry guy who seems like he’s in love with the King and not Princess Margaret like we are supposed to assume he is?? Why is Jeremy Northam suddenly relegated to old, boring Secretary of White Shoe Polish or Whatnot when he IS THE HOTNESS in period pieces?!?!?! Possession. Gosford Park. An Ideal Husband. Emma!! The Tudors? Please observe his shock:
And why do we care so much about Winston Churchill in this show? Isn’t it about royalty? I want the scandal. I told y’all I wasn’t into John Lithgow, and this is not helping.
Also … the sovereign has to invite the elected Prime Minister to set up a government in his name? I hate to go all American, but constitutional monarchy is weird as hell.
All the pounds
I’m constantly looking for the ways in which this show is the most expensive one ever made. And then the first shot is those flowers, and I totally get it.
Also it seems like the location shooting is really going to be extensive. I don’t know if they actually filmed the Malta scenes in Malta or in Daytona Beach, but I want to go to there. The details of everything from the queen’s peach mother-of-the-bride dress to the marble walls of Buckingham to Princess Ann’s curls to the king’s newborn tumor are all making fiscal sense to me now.
I love the idea that we are essentially watching is a family drama from the highest purview of public interest. They are, after all, a family. Shrouded in secrecy. But the only family that everyone in the world feels a vested interest in. One thing this mediocre royal hound does remember from her junior high obsession with Prince William was how connected the Windsors are to the courts and royal families all across Europe. Despite the post-war dissolutions of many of them, surely Europeans are still fascinated with those bloodlines, those families. Hell, Americans are and we tossed them out when they were still the House of Hanover.
So I can’t soak up enough of the little tidbits of familial love, tension, care and closeness. Elizabeth acting SO firstborn with Margaret’s behavior. The Father-Daughter bonding time, while awkward, also proves adorable. In the Bleak Midwinter is one of my favorite carols, so that scene provided a hefty dose of tears and empathy. A father knowingly spending his last Christmas with his family, and a king accepting the freely given love of his people. Poor Bertie. Even the act of hiding the extent of his prognosis is evidence of the love – and the distance – that seems like it will characterize this series.
Speaking of Themes
Love and distance. As much as I love the early relationship between Elizabeth and Philip; I know the drill. It’s going to hurt real good as it keeps flitting between the two, as they navigate power dynamics and Elizabeth comes out on top. Submission as a pre-requisite for the “obey” in her vows will become the lynchpin on which her precedence will hinge. Mmmm…power dynamics between this couple will get uncomfortable, annoying, frustrating, and *fingers crossed* hot.
OMG am I stanning for RPF Duke of Edinburgh and QE2 style? GUH roce.
One More Thing
I guess I am.