CastleDrama: "The Crown" - Season 2, Episode 3
As always, spoilers ahead.
Aaand we are back! In case you needed any confirmation that the third episode of the second season of "The Crown" titled "Lisbon" was bringing us back to the first few scenes of this season, you are indeed right. First, however, Elizabeth conveniently explains to Charles and Anne (and us viewers) that Philip is still off somewhere in the Pacific and that you need to visit your overseas territories every once in a while so they don't get "silly ideas like becoming independent".
With the divorce of Michael and Eileen Parker, Philip's private secretary and his wife, looming over us for must of the season, it was finally time to call in the cavalry in the person of Tommy Lascelles. However, the efforts of the Queen's former private secretary, who had also served her three successors in the same or similar capacities, go to waste as Eileen can not be deterred from going ahead with the divorce. Not even a visit by the Queen herself later on in the episode can change that. "While some women may put up with that sort of humiliation, I have too much respect for myself and my children to bear it," she tells Elizabeth: "You people aren’t even remotely aware of the cost of the damage to families and marriages in your service."
But before Elizabeth's and Philip's marriage takes a further hit when Eileen supplies the Queen with one of the letters Michael has written to the men's only "Thursday Club", we get to see a glimpse of the Duke of Edinburgh as family man. He has sent home footage of him playing with penguins and huskies in the Antarctic along with some lovely notes. Elizabeth is obviously fascinated and smitten by her bearded husband, after all she hasn't seen him in a few months. So much so that she writes a letter to Philip saying, "I could never forget what my grandmother said to me about being married to a man with a beard" and more things her husband can not repeat to his fellow men.
On the political front, Prime Minister Eden is about to resign after returning from Jamaica to recover his health. His government, his party and the people on the street want him out and so he meets the Queen for his farewell. She is surprisingly sympathetic to the man though it's obvious he ain't no Churchill. But neither is the new PM Harold Macmillan. Trying to push all the blame for the Suez crisis away the Queen surely puts him in his place reminding him that he was one of the loudest voices pushing for war. "One always has to accept one's own party, I believe, in any mess", she lectures him. Burn.
When the story of the Parker's divorce is made public, every newspaper runs with the headline. Some American publications even suggest affairs by the Duke of Edinburgh and ultimately comparisons to the scandal surrounding Wallis Simpson are brought up. To minimise the headlines, Michael has to resign from his post and the Queen flies to Lisbon to meet her husband. It's a cold encounter followed by the stormy-seas-scenes of the first episode. "The steps we have taken haven't done the trick, the rumours still haven't gone away", Elizabeth tells her husband and we finally learn what his price is.
Philip isn't too thrilled his is currently outranked by his eight-years-old son. Something he should probably get used to considering Charles is the heir to the throne. But still, being created a prince of the United Kingdom, Philip thinks, will do the trick and bring about the respect of the courtiers. They, however, look utterly unimpressed at the ceremony. Still, a photo session with Cecil Beaton recalls the end of the first season when Elizabeth Windsor has become Elizabeth Regina. In a final meeting with best buddy and former secretary Michael Parker Philip admits that things are only "as sorted as it can be" - because, hey, when you thought that he would finally stop, he whines again. And life as a prince in his own right - which he actually was all along due to his heritage - may not be such an easy ride after all as Michael now refuses to call him by his first name now, instead he is always "Sir". Maybe Philip should simply take his wife's advice for once and actually work to get the respect of others and not rely on a title?
All in all, the third episode of the season was probably the best thus far. Yes, Philip is still annoying as heck but at least he and Elizabeth are back together. It made for the best watching in the first season and the second one has finally picked up some motion. Considering we see so much of Prince Philip's inner workings, I wouldn't mind some more insight into Elizabeth, the woman behind the Queen. While "The Crown" aims to be a private depiction of her life, she is all mask and little interior even in the most private settings like the couple's fight in Lisbon aboard Britannia. The most interesting reflection about the Queen actually comes surprisingly as a courtesy of Michael Parker about her wish for more children: He points out that Elizabeth might want a few kids who she doesn’t view as mortal threats, because as the heir to the throne, Charles represents her own death. That actually is food for thought (for any monarchy)!