Time for another installment of our bejeweled recaps of The Crown, magpies! Today, we’re looking at the replica jewels and the historical realities of episode three of the second season, “Lisbon.” This episode forms a sort of a finale to the first three episodes of the season; if you’ve missed any of our previous recaps, you can find them here!
We begin with a geography lesson in the royal nursery. Elizabeth, Charles, and Anne are examining a giant, fancy globe, looking for places that Philip has visited on tour. (They’re definitely at Buckingham Palace here, which is a little odd — the Queen generally stays at Sandringham until the anniversary of her accession, February 6. Not sure when the writers intended the episode to be set.)
Elizabeth, who is wearing pearl earrings, is pleased to hear that Philip has sent several canisters of film from the tour. Maybe that camera wasn’t such a bad present after all?
A less happy delivery arrives for Michael Adeane in the press office.
Now that she’s got her evidence, Eileen Parker has officially initiated divorce proceedings. Her solicitor (who, again, apparently isn’t responsible for or doesn’t care about attorney-client privilege) has passed along the news in advance out of respect.
There’s only one person Adeane can call: TOMMY. Not sure exactly why he’s practicing with his scope in his house, but he soon has his sights on Eileen and the divorce case that could potentially ruin the royal marriage.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, the entire royal family has gathered to watch Philip’s films from his royal tour. He’s even written a little letter with commentary to accompany the home movies.
And here he is with a beard and a penguin.
Much more adorable: little Prince Charles with a penguin.
Pearl-clad Elizabeth is enjoying the footage immensely.
Princess Margaret, who is wearing more fashionable ’50s earrings, thinks that the beard makes Philip look “shifty.”
The next day, Tommy arrives at the palace to try to help Adeane clean up the Parker Situation. He runs into HM on her way out the door.
She’s wearing a gold-toned brooch with a leaf-and-branch motif — another production-invented piece. She’s a little puzzled to see Tommy there, as she’s just been given a few days off to go spend at Sandringham, but she heads off without asking many questions.
The intrepid duo of Lascelles and Adeane decide that there’s only one possible solution: try to stop the divorce altogether.
At Sandringham, Elizabeth happily writes to Philip in response to the films. She even makes a cheeky little joke about Queen Mary and King George V and husbands with beards.
On board Britannia, Philip (whose beard has officially reached “mangy” status) reads part of the letter aloud.
After their own little politically-expedient health vacation, Anthony and Clarissa Eden have returned to England. Although this episode takes place after Christmas, the Edens actually came back to the UK on December 14, 1956.
The press is less than excited to see the PM back in London.
And the cabinet isn’t thrilled, either. The meeting turns into a shouting match over the Suez crisis, and Macmillan — who had agreed with Eden in a previous episode about the need for military intervention — turns on him. Eden’s tenure as prime minister is officially doomed.
This is Elizabeth’s face when she’s informed that Eden has called an emergency audience during her Sandringham vacation.
The Edens arrive in Norfolk by train, and they’re shouted at by people on the platform.
Eden tells Elizabeth that his doctors have recommended that he resign, fearing that he’ll put his life at stake if he tries to stay in office. (Many agree that Eden’s health problems provided him with a plausible reason to resign and avoid continuing political fallout.)
Elizabeth accepts his resignation — and basically tells Eden that she knows he went to war to try to best Churchill’s legacy. (A note on the historical timeline here: the Edens went to Sandringham on January 8, 1957; they stayed the night, and then returned to London the following day. The Queen also returned to London and Buckingham Palace on January 9, and Eden officially resigned at the palace that evening.)
Back in London, Tommy Lascelles has tracked down Eileen Parker. He tries to convince her to hold off on the divorce announcement.
But no dice. He telephones Adeane to let him know that they can’t avoid telling the Queen about the Parker divorce any longer.
Adeane breaks the news to the Queen on the train back from Sandringham to London.
The Queen, wearing a feathery invented brooch, makes this face in response to the news.
But when Adeane leaves her alone, she looks considerably more pensive.
The Queen’s third prime minister, Harold Macmillan, arrives for his first audience at the palace. He’s a little more weasely in this version of reality than he really was, I think.
Sidenote: I’m really surprised that the show, which was super into government intrigue with Churchill last season, didn’t get in to the unusual way that Macmillan was chosen for the job. The Conservative party was super divided following the disaster that was the Suez crisis, and it wasn’t clear whether Macmillan (who was Chancellor of the Exchequer) or Rab Butler (who was Leader of the House of Commons) would succeed Eden. The press thought it would be Butler (and that was Eden’s choice), but the cabinet took a secret vote, and Macmillan won. Meanwhile, the Queen called good old Winston Churchill to the palace to get his opinion. (Can you believe the show actually missed an opportunity to include their favorite character???) Churchill also advocated for Macmillan. That was that — Macmillan it was.
In their initial audience, Macmillan tries to put all the blame for the Suez policy on Eden, but HM isn’t having it — she knows Macmillan was involved, too. (This audience happened in real life on January 10, 1957.)
Speaking of crises — Mike Parker finds out aboard Britannia that his wife has started divorce proceedings against him.
He interrupts Philip’s me-time aboard the ship (he’s painting a tropical bird) to let him know about the developments. Phil’s not happy — not really because of the divorce, but because Mike was so indiscreet in his letter to Baron. (Which, remember, was not actually a thing, because Baron was, well, dead.)
After meeting with her new PM, Elizabeth heads over to the Parker residence for a chat with Eileen. She offers her help, and carefully asks Eileen to delay any official filings or announcements.
But Eileen’s had quite enough of all of this royal stuff. If it hadn’t been for the Townsend affair — and her desire to help protect the monarchy — she would have filed for divorce years ago, she claims. And then she gives HM the letter that implicates Philip in the royal tour infidelity rodeo, too.
HM reads it and then quickly returns it, remaining stoic even when Eileen presses her to show some emotion in response.
The train starts rolling — Eileen’s solicitor calls the press to let them know about the Parker split.
The papers carry the news. (The Parker separation was made public on February 4, 1957.)
Mike hears about this aboard the Britannia, and he tries to convince Philip that the press coverage really isn’t all that bad. Philip disagrees, and he makes Mike resign his post right away.
According to the Age, Parker’s hometown paper (and employer of the fictional reporter from last episode, he was more proactive in his response: he “immediately” offered his resignation when “he learned that the parting was public knowledge.” A spokesperson from the palace elaborated, “Lieutenant-Commander Parker realises that the existing circumstances of his marriage make it impossible for him to carry on as the Duke’s secretary.”
When the Britannia docks in Gibraltar, Mike Parker is officially out. (This happened on February 6, 1957.)
In reality, some of the British press were highly displeased with Parker’s departure. The editorial staff of the Daily Mirror responded as follows: “Just before the Duke of Edinburgh began his commonwealth tour, the death of Baron, the photographer, robbed him of a close personal friend. Now … he has had to say goodbye to another loyal friend — Lt. Cmdr. Michael Parker. This time, it is the dead hand of palace tradition which has cut the duke off from an old comrade and servant. Cmdr. Parker and his wife have parted. Because of this misfortune — which could happen to anybody — Michael Parker has felt obliged to resign …. When is this ludicrous custom going to be changed? It is fantastic in this modern age that a man who has marriage troubles should be treated as, or made to feel that he is some sort of moral leper.”
The Queen reportedly agreed. Mike Parker himself told Gyles Brandreth, “The Duke saw me off at the airport in Gibraltar and the Queen was wonderful throughout. She regarded the divorce as a sadness, not a hanging offence … The Queen telephoned me and could not have been more sympathetic.” She appointed Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order after his resignation.
Back at the palace, Tommy reveals that the foreign press has also started writing quite a lot about the Parkers — and about Philip. (This was true. The Baltimore Sun really did publish a story that accused Philip of an affair. Another syndicated story that circulated widely in American newspapers in February 1957 explained, “Parker’s resignation led to fresh talk to the effect that the duke, as well as his equerry, was having domestic trouble. There have been no reports in the British press on discord in the royal family, but newspapers have given more than usual prominence to stories concerning Parker’s resignation.” The palace famously responded with a terse statement: “It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke.”)
The Queen Mum, who is wearing pearls as per usual, wants Philip to come home right away.
Elizabeth, also in pearls, listens as Tommy disagrees — there’s another plan afoot.
Aboard the Britannia, Philip is informed that the Queen will be arriving early to help manage the marital rumors away. (Her arrival wasn’t pushed up — it was always planned. The couple were meeting up in Portugal for a scheduled state visit in February 1957.)
Philip shaves off his beard to plan for his wife’s arrival.
And he lets courtiers direct his arrival as he meets her plane in Lisbon. (This happened on February 16, two days before the scheduled state visit.)
Show Elizabeth wears the production’s “ribbon” brooch and scowls at her husband. According to Brandreth, the real scene on the plane was just a bit different in tone: Philip “was greeted by an extraordinary sight: his wife and her entire entourage, sitting in their seats, all sporting false ginger beards!”
Show Philip and Show Elizabeth make nice for the press, waving as they deplane.
But back on the Britannia, they basically rip each other’s heads off. We’re back to the first scene of the season and their epic argument.
Elizabeth, wearing another of the production’s invented brooches, asks Philip what in the world he wants from her. He says that he wants respect from the “mustaches” who run the palace.
So she gives it to him: she ends the confusion over Philip’s official status, elevating him to “the style and titular dignity of a prince of the United Kingdom.” This really did happen on February 22, the day after they returned from the Portuguese state visit. It was a response to two separate proposals from prime ministers: Churchill had suggested the change in March 1955, and Macmillan had raised the idea again in February 1957.
The upgrade was, according to the Guardian, largely a recognition of the Duke’s service to the nation and the Commonweath following the lengthy tour. The Associated Press noted that it was seen by many as a sign of the Queen’s affection — and also a show of confidence following the recent rumors.
The show stages a little mini coronation for Philip. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I really don’t think this actually happened.) Since he’s basically the main character this season, I guess that it’s time for him to get his own crown? (That’s actually a prince’s coronet.)
Elizabeth wears a rather exaggerated replica of Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik for this scene, along with their version of the Coronation earrings and an invented diamond necklace.
The Queen Mother’s there, wearing the replica Greville Tiara and replica Alexandra Wedding Necklace (and the earrings invented by the production to go with the necklace); Margaret is wearing the invented tiara that she’s worn several times, including during the coronation episode.
The Queen “crowns” Philip with his new, upgraded coronet.
She also shoves a ring on his pinky finger.
One more good view of the “kokoshnik” here — its height is exaggerated quite a bit.
The newly “crowned” Philip stands next his wife. He looks like a kid in a school play here, doesn’t he?
Frowning tiaras and robes to the left…
…and frowning tiaras and robes to the right.
Philip just makes this face as he surveys his subjects. (Just kidding! You’re not the king, Phil, deal.)
But he does get a fancy new portrait.
Cecil Beaton snaps photos. Elizabeth pulls Adeane aside during the portrait session and asks for a favor.
Seriously, she makes him shave off his mustache so that Philip will feel better. (Eye roll.)
Even after all that hoopla, Philip still looks miserable. He goes to see Mike, who’s planning to go back to Australia. Philip miserably tells him that Elizabeth wants more kids. (Cheer up, Phil — didn’t you see all that help in the very first screencap from this recap???) And apparently neither of them have learned anything from this entire episode, because they toast “to our wives and sweethearts … may they never meet.”
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