The Crown: Smoke and Mirrors
November 16, 2016 9:52 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Elizabeth rejects protocol by appointing Phillip to coordinate her coronation, but his ideas create conflict. The Duke of Windsor returns to London.

You can view the actual coronation ceremony on YouTube.
posted by Cash4Lead (10 comments total)
Was this the first episode in which the old king actually sort of stuttered, a la King's Speech? I recall wondering about that in the earlier episodes - whether the speech impediment was exaggerated for the film or downplayed for this series - but in the scene where he's rehearsing the coronation with Lilibeth, he seems to be struggling a little here and there.

I find the David character an enjoyably complex one. On the one hand, he's mostly being depicted as weak, selfish and a little mean. We see him casually saying he wishes his mother would die to save him the trouble of a second visit. Snickering with Wallis, calling everyone with stupid nicknames. Not ever having thought about the burden he passed on to his niece. Angling to maximize his allowance, etc. On the other hand, the love between him and Wallis just seems warm and real and maybe something worth becoming a pariah for. Also, some of his remarks and observations regarding the royalty are quite on point. I'm glad the show went for complexity in that respect.
posted by sively at 3:05 PM on November 16, 2016 [15 favorites]

Thanks for pointing out George VI's speech impediment, sively, I glossed over it the first time around.

This article in the Telegraph promoting 'The King's Speech' (which I'll be watching after I finish this episode).

Holy hells.

Recording of his actual speech over the radio in 1939 addressing Britain's involvement in World War II. His Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue was in the room during this radio broadcast.

A public speech in 1938 (pre-speech therapy).
posted by porpoise at 7:15 PM on November 16, 2016

In the first episode he really struggled to say the words and did a lot of the glosses that The King's Speech showed he studied to make his speech more fluent.

Definitely watch The King's Speech, it's not only a touching and moving movie, but Elizabeth found it very true to her father's experience. The playwright (/movie writer) waited until the Queen Mum died to do the screenplay and film the movie, because the script (as shown to her) hit so close to home. Seidler (the writer) also has a stutter and was inspired by King George VI.

Helena Bonham Carter is truly excellent as the Queen Mum; Colin Firth is excellent as the King; and the cinematography is fantastic as it works to show the king trapped in his life with tight and often dizzying camera angles and how messy and muddy the colors in his frames are.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:59 PM on November 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here's the coronation gown, which is a marvel of embroidery (which is my interest in it!). (During part of the ceremony, shown in the episode, she's wearing a plain white covering with lots of pleats on the bodice and sleeves.) The embroidery features the flowers of all of her realms at the time: The English Rose, the Welsh Leek, The Scottish Thistle, the Irish Shamrock, the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Australian Wattle Flower, the Fern of New Zealand, the South African Protea, the Lotus Flower for India and Ceylon, and the Wheat, Cotton, and Jute of Pakistan. Right where her left hand would touch the dress, the embroiderer made one of the shamrocks a four-leaf clover for good luck so her hand would brush it throughout the day.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:12 PM on November 16, 2016 [23 favorites]

The most interesting part of this episode was the discussion of anointing by the Archbishop and divine right of rulers. Elizabeth was practically brainwashed from a very early age and that was a more traditional time (no matter what Philip says). The more I see of this show, the less likely it seems that this mindset can continue after Elizabeth's death.

Also the argument about television in the Abbey reminds me of the time after Diana's death, there were articles claiming that the royal family life documentaries (they're just like us! except they wear kilts! ) that had been shown on tv in the preceding decades had diminished the royal mystique [sic]. But who knows.

Some false notes. Would a reporter really ask the Duke of Windsor why there were no photos of him wearing a crown? And I'm pretty sure Philip would not make a speech to the gaggle of Old Etonians and use the words "my wife, the Queen".

According to the cast list, most of the characters are/were actual people with jobs and titles yet very few are addressed by name. One summer vacation during college, I found two massive biographies of the Duke of Windsor and read them back to back. It was endlessly fascinating how the same event would have two diametrically opposite interpretations and how differently certain courtiers were portrayed. One was very scathing about the love match.

Finally, Zadok the Priest has to be the most kick ass anthem ever.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:04 AM on November 27, 2016

Regarding the stutter: the portrayal in this series is very good, at least based on my experience interacting daily with someone who has (mostly) overcome a stutter. The person I know is very good at glossing over it, such that I didn't realize what it was for nearly a year. Now that I know what it looks like, I see it every day.

I think there is intentionally more of the stutter in this episode; it's before he would have received help for it, right?
posted by ocherdraco at 6:49 PM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

David is a fucking fantastic character.

Like, he and Wallis are such shady, vindictive, backbiting, petty people, and this episode packs a huge emotional wallop in spite (or because) of it. One of the most effective tricks the show uses is to introduce something early on, then loop back to it -- they've done it in a bunch of episodes, and I always enjoy it, and Mr. Machine and I kinda take bets about what Chekov implement is going to happen. But even though I KNEW the bag-piping was going to happen as soon as we had that scene with the tawdry access-for-dollars scene with the Brit-actress-pretending-to-be-American reporter, I still got hit hard at the end, with the camera wordlessly showing David playing his bagpipes on his French front lawn after watching his niece get installed in the heart of the order that he rejected.

Like. It was such a powerful visual comparison -- Elizabeth in her full ceremonial regalia at Westminster, doing exactly what she has been born and bred and expected to do, surrounded by people she has known since birth. Contrast that with David, wearing basically a fancy-but-everyday-for-him-suit, in Paris, surrounded by Americans who are treating this as ticketed entertainment with him as the starring attraction, like a three-headed dog. And it really powerfully illustrated that even when you've pushed away every single last individual person in your past, even when you've pushed away the land you were born, even when you have rejected every behavioral standard you were taught because you believe you've found something better -- all that, and you can still miss belonging. You can still miss the past.

You can still miss what could have been.

Every time in subsequent episodes when we've seen Elizabeth in residence somewhere and a bagpiper walking the ramparts and playing, I think about little tiny David hearing one through the windows of his nursery, and deciding that's what he will do when he is King of England.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:25 PM on December 12, 2016 [18 favorites]

You're right about David's petty, vindictive nature, but I get the sense from the show that he wouldn't be quite so much like that if his family had accepted him. Their complete rejection of him and the woman he loves really did a number on him, I think. If he had been allowed to stand down as king, marry Wallis, but remain in London, remain a member of the royal household, out of the line of succession? He'd be a very different person, and there would be no need for such acrimony between all parties.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:55 AM on December 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've occasionally read about Wallis and David here and there. We're all presumably lucky he fell in love. One gets the feeling that both sides feel utterly betrayed by the other one in this whole fight, especially, as he points out, seventeen years later. Bygones ain't bygones when Bertie and Elizabeth are all "you ruined my life" and Cookie is all "you killed my husband" and he's all I LOVE MY WIFE RESPECT THE DUCHESS. That said, he did kinda keep trying to get back into the family/role somehow, and there's the Nazi thing.... So overall, he's not great, but his devotion to her was touching. Clearly she offered something nobody else in his world did, whatever that was.

He definitely comes off as catty gay uncle in this series, though. Like every line of his is ME-OWWW!
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Before David met Wallis, there was another married woman he was in love with and whom he proposed to. (She said no.) My theory is that he didn't want to be king and that he was looking for an out. Abdicating for love was dignified, even noble, while "I hate this, I didn't ask for this, and I'm outta here" would not have been. He may very well have genuinely loved Wallis, but at the same time he needed to aggrandize their love and their relationship to suit the grand purpose to which he had put it.
posted by orange swan at 10:50 PM on April 23

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