Previously on The Crown: Elizabeth came to the throne, and the changes that came with it made her husband feel very emasculated.
It’s time to get this queen crowned! But first! Complications and religion!
We head back to 1937 to watch a really sweet moment between father and daughter. George wants to practice for his coronation and asks little Elizabeth to pretend to be the Archbishop. During their practice, he explains that the anointing part of the ceremony is the most sacred part, the bit where the monarch becomes something holy and divine. Elizabeth clearly soaks up the lesson. And, when she practices wearing the crown, she’s got her own children there with her. Traditions.
In the present, she decides to give Philip something to do and appoints him chair of her coronation committee. Everyone, including her mother, objects, because the Duke of Norfolk’s done it for ages and who are these people to mess with tradition? Well, the queen will mess. She’s clearly already getting tired of being pushed around, and she’s pushing back. She gets her way. Philip’s on the committee, and he’s ready to modernize things. He’s the one who suggests the ceremony be televised, a notion that shocks everyone immensely, but he gets his way in the end.
But there are family troubles. As the coronation approaches, Edward and Wallis give a fluff-piece interview at their new estate in France (you’d think that, in 1953, the French government would be a tad reluctant to hand over enormous grace-and-favour mansions to Nazi sympathisers, but, hey, history.) that is so embarrassingly frivolous it makes everything else that’s happening look incredibly weighty (which, let’s be honest, it’s not. Pretty much everyone comments on the fact that this is all show and pageantry. Smoke and mirrors, if you will, to distract people from their everyday problems and privations, just for a little while.)
After the sad photoshoot, Edward returns to England, where his mother is dying. He sits sweetly at her bedside, and then goes and eviscerates her and other members of the royal family in letters to his wife. Edward’s such an asshole. And nobody wants him at the coronation, so Lascelles comes up with a clever idea and makes it clear to Edward that Wallis will not be welcomed at the coronation. Edward throws a fit, insults the Archbishop of Canterbury, and then finally gives them what they want: he refuses to attend the coronation and puts out the word that he just thinks it’d be a little awkward. Instead, he and Wallis hold a lavish party and tune in like the rest of the world, with Edward narrating the details and intricacies of the ceremony for the guests.
On the eve of the big show, Elizabeth and Philip start clashing. She’s worried about the monarchy being robbed of its mystique, and he, despite his views on modernising the whole institution, goes retrograde for a bit and tantrums over the idea of having to kneel to his wife. She reminds him that he’s bending his knee to his queen, if the idea of appearing subservient to his wife is so abhorrent, but he still pouts and keeps bringing up the whole last name issue. Oh, Philip, just give it a rest already. Yes, it sucks how you’ve been treated, but this kneeling thing is not an issue. Every other man has to kneel to her too! Including her uncles! Her own mother and sister have to curtsey to her, so just get in line, will you?
He does. The kneeling happens, and the ceremony is screened for the world to see (though the cameras are respectfully shut off during the anointing). Elizabeth is crowned, street parties are held throughout the land, Edward gets a little sad and nostalgic and plays the bagpipes in his lovely French garden.