Time for our penultimate recap of The Crown for the season, everyone! It’s time to check in with the jewels and history presented in “Imbroglio.” (Missed any of the earlier recaps? You can find them all here!)
We pick up the action almost exactly where we left off in the previous episode. It’s May 31, 1972, and a Royal Air Force plane is bringing the body of the late Duke of Windsor back to England.
Six days later, on Monday, June 5, 1972, the Duke is buried on the Frogmore estate in Windsor.
We get another glimpse of Geraldine Chaplin as Wallis, who is heavily veiled for the funeral. The costuming is quite accurate. Less accurate, though, is the brooch on the Queen Mother, who’s in the background over Wallis’s right shoulder. Production has put her in their replica of the Teck Emperor of Austria Brooch, which she never owned and never wore. (Go figure.) In reality, the Queen Mum wore one of her favorite jewels, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch, for the funeral.
The Queen, who is watching Prince Charles warily throughout the scene, is shown wearing a diamond bow brooch. The design of the brooch is similar to that of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooches. Close, but no cigar: the Queen really wore the Dorset Bow Brooch for the funeral. Honestly, though, when compared to most of the “jewels” shown this season, I’ll take it.
It wouldn’t be an episode of The Crown without a soapy reflection moment, and this episode goes the distance, showing Charles considering his own reflection in the glass over a photograph of the late Duke of Windsor. (Hey, did you know they were both Princes of Wales, and they both had troubled romantic lives? Did you???)
Wallis chats with Charles at Windsor Castle after the services are over. It’s doubtful that the real Wallis was nearly as composed as she’s presented here; the papers reported that she was in shock after the Duke’s death, and she was accompanied by her American doctor during the funeral. She also apparently went directly from the funeral service to a royal plane and headed straight back home to Paris.
The fictional Wallis, however, chats with Charles, even asking whether Camilla is around. (Gyles Brandreth argues that even Charles’s parents didn’t really know about Camilla, let alone Wallis.)
She gives him a memento from the Duke’s collection: a pocket watch and compass, which had been a gift from her to the Duke in the 1930s.
She also tells him to watch out for his family.
Camilla is waiting outside the castle to see Charles before he leaves for the naval academy at Dartmouth, and she sees Wallis leaving as she arrives. She’s spooked by the whole business. (Did you know that both Camilla and Wallis were divorcees who married Princes of Wales? Did you???)
We switch gears quickly, as the Queen’s attention is turned to a coal miners’ strike. The 1972 strike took place long before the Duke’s death, from early January until the end of February. This particular moment from the strike, the Battle of Saltley Gate, was a mass picket of a fuel depot in Birmingham. The picketing took place from February 3-10.
The Queen, as she always seems to do in this show, sits motionless and silent as she watches the events unfold on television. (Also unfortunately standard on the show this season: the brooch and no pearls accessory depiction.)
As the strike continues, we’re shown some background on Edward Heath. We see him learning to play the piano as a little boy in Kent, and then playing as an adult. Heath really was an accomplished classical musician, even installing a grand piano at 10 Downing Street during his tenure as PM.
The Queen wears her pearls/no brooch combo for an audience with Heath, who isn’t interested in negotiating with the National Union of Mineworkers.
Later, she talks about their conversation with Prince Philip. He’s gotten some dirt on Heath, including the sad story of a childhood romance gone wrong. (Heath never married.)
Speaking of young romances about to go wrong, Prince Charles is busy with his naval training at Dartmouth. (In real life, Charles completed his six weeks of training at Dartmouth in October 1971, months before the death of the Duke of Windsor. As I mentioned in the last recap, he was already serving on the Norfolk off the coast of France when the Queen made her last visit to her uncle.)
He pours his heart out to Camilla over the telephone while they’re apart.
When Lord Mountbatten comes to visit, he’s dismayed to see how lovesick and distracted Charles seems.
Dickie heads straight to Clarence House, where he and the Queen Mother discuss Charles and Camilla’s romance. Neither of them are happy about the situation, and they decide that it’s time to break them up. Dickie will engineer a naval posting for Charles, and the Queen Mother will handle Camilla. (It’s worth mentioning that all of this plotting is fictional.)
Meanwhile, the talks between the government and the miners’ union are going absolutely terribly.
Since no agreement has been reached, the nation is facing real problems with their power supply. Charteris briefs Elizabeth and Philip on the governments’ plan for intermittent power cuts.
The Queen, in — guess what? — pearls and no brooch, gives Martin this concerned face. It’s so fascinating to me that the show has almost totally stopped offering a perspective on her inner thoughts and feelings this season. Surely the whole premise of this show is to reveal (fictional) insights into how she feels? She’s often just as much of a cypher here as she is in real life.
Speaking of characters who have been left behind by this show, here’s the Queen Mother, holding court in candlelight in the middle of a power cut. It’s nearly impossible to see, but she’s actually wearing some sort of brooch pinned to her jacket here. Leave it to The Crown to find a way to make their poorly lit scenes even darker!
Hidden in the shadows here are Bruce and Rosalind Shand and Derek and Ann Parker Bowles, who have been summoned to Clarence House so that the Queen Mum can tell them that their children have to get married. It’s both completely fictional and the most interesting thing that her character has done all season.
At Dartmouth, Charles is informed that he’s passed his exams, and even though he’s not done with training, he’s being sent to the Caribbean. He is immediately suspicious that strings have been pulled.
(Historical reality check: Charles’s first official posting, a nine-month stint aboard the missile destroyer Norfolk, was publicly announced in August 1971, weeks before he even arrived at Dartmouth for training. It was always part of the plan, not a plot engineered by Mountbatten. I feel like that last sentence should be a disclaimer on every episode of the show, really.)
But in the world of The Crown, Charles knows that someone’s trying to send him off to keep him away from Camilla. He heads straight to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen what’s up.
The Queen (in pearls and — wait for it — no brooch) wasn’t aware of the string-pulling, but she immediately knows who to ask about it.
She calls in Dickie and the Queen Mum for a meeting, and they spill the beans about their (fictional) meddling. But, they explain, it’s all for a good reason.
And then we cut to perhaps my favorite scene of this entire season: Princess Anne, driving to Buckingham Palace, belting out David Bowie’s “Starman” at the top of her lungs in her very posh accent. It’s fantastic. (For what it’s worth historically, the song was released on April 28, 1972, and it climbed the charts in Britain that summer.)
Anne’s been summoned to the palace to tell everyone about Camilla, Charles, and Andrew Parker Bowles. She’s convinced that Camilla’s mostly still in love with Andrew.
She also tells them about her own fling with Andrew, leading the broochless Queen to make this face.
The Queen Mum gives her daughter this “see???” expression. She also explains that Camilla and Andrew’s wedding date has been set. Now someone just needs to tell Charles.
Mountbatten gets that job.
Meanwhile, the Queen watches even more television footage of Britons suffering because of the strike.
And Charles calls Camilla, who tells him that she really does love him, but she does love Andrew, too.
(Okay. Nobody really knows all the ins and outs of the end of Charles and Camilla’s early romance, but the facts seem to go like this: just before Christmas in 1972, they spent time together at Broadlands, Lord Mountbatten’s country estate. He didn’t propose, and he went back to his naval duties. Family members told Gyles Brandreth that that weekend in December, Charles had had his chance to win Camilla once and for all — but didn’t take it. There wasn’t a plot to separate them; Charles just didn’t ask her to marry him. Andrew Parker Bowles did, and their engagement was announced on March 15, 1973. Charles reportedly wrote to Mountbatten that he was upset by the news, but “the feeling of emptiness will pass eventually.”)
Back at Buckingham Palace, Heath reports once again that the miners aren’t budging in their negotiations.
The Queen (no brooch!) is unhappy — she thinks that Heath’s clearly not giving enough consideration to the union, and she’s upset that the blackouts are still going on.
(The 1972 strike ended on February 28 of that year, when the union accepted an offer that raised miners’ pay. The deal happened shortly after the Battle of Saltley Gate.)
The episode ends with the Queen delivering a speech on the occasion of her 25th wedding anniversary. That celebration happened in November 1972. She really did make a short speech to mark the occasion, but it happened during a luncheon at the Guildhall in London, not during a glittering evening banquet.
The tiaras on display are, well, complete and utter inventions. Not a royal replica to be seen here!
We’ve got some sort of invented diamond scroll tiara on the Queen Mother…
…and a tiara set with rubies (!) on Princess Margaret. (She had diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and turquoises — no ruby tiaras.)
As the Queen waxes poetic about her marriage, we see glimpses into others’ romances. In Paris, Wallis grieves for David…
…and at the Guards Chapel in London, the Queen Mother looks very smug in pearls for a wedding.
Surprise! It’s the marriage of Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles, which happened on July 4, 1973. The ceremony really was attended by the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, and Princess Anne. Charles was invited but had to decline because of a scheduling conflict.
In The Crown‘s fictional version of history, Charles is alone and distraught in the West Indies.
And although she’s saying lots of things about happy marriages, the Queen ends up with this expression, in all of these completely invented jewels. Sigh.