R29 Binge Club: The Crown Recaps, Episodes 1-10

Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Matt Smith and Claire Foy recreate Elizabeth and Philip's wedding.
Update: The Crown has just received two Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, Drama, and Best Television Series, Drama.
The dangerous thing about getting sucked into a historical drama is that spoilers are everywhere: history books, Wikipedia, the fact that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are still mucking it up in Buckingham Palace. Ugh, guys, you've ruined it all. Thanks a lot.

Of course, some of the plot twists in The Crown — the most expensive show produced by Netflix — are so juicy and soapy that you'll struggle to believe they actually happened. Okay, creator and writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Audience) may have taken some artistic license, but much of it can be verified by a quick Google search. Maybe you should have paid more attention in history class, eh?

Consider this a sequel to The King's Speech, a prequel to The Queen, and a companion piece to The Audience. Here, George is King George VI, not an adorable toddler who wears knee socks. It's all about Lilibet and Philip, not Will and Kate. The biggest royal headache is the snotty Duke of Windsor, not the possibility of Prince Harry running around naked.

It's so opulent, so dramatic, and so fascinating. If you've ever wondered how Her Majesty went from a blushing bride to HBIC, stick around. We've got some binge-watching to do.

Episode 1

Remember when King George VI's (Jared Harris) biggest problem was stuttering? Now it's 1947 and he's hacking up blood and fretting about his health, though he still finds the time to squeeze in a dirty limerick or two.

Frankly, we're worried about the monarch's health, too (but not that worried, because a quick Wiki search tells us he's still got a good five years left to live). He's barely able to stammer through the service making Philip Mountbatten, who has just renounced his Greek nationality, the Duke of Edinburgh so that he can claim "the greatest prize on Earth" and marry Princess Elizabeth.

Philip smokes and his family isn't much to speak of, but he's played by Doctor Who's Matt Smith, and is therefore dishy in a sort of crinkly forehead way. Claire Foy's Elizabeth (better known as Lilibet) is so pleased she even insists upon keeping the "obey" bit in the marriage vows. Alas, unlike their future grandson, William and his bride, Kate Middleton, Philip and Lilibet keep their royal wedding pretty mellow and sans souvenirs or Philip Treacy hats. Before Pippa Middleton and her derriere, wedding guests had to settle for being distracted by the scene-stealing Winston Churchill (John Lithgow, chomping away at the scenery and a cigar) and his Nazi jokes.

Boom. Lilibet and Philip are married, have two cute kiddos who will grow up to be Charles and Anne, and settle into the Royal Navy life in Malta. Philip is shirtless, suntanned, and successful. What a perfect time for King George to fuck things up with his increasingly poor health.

Lilibet rushes back to London for her father's surgery. The king's lung has been removed, but he's made it through surgery. He's still weak, so when he invites reinstated Prime Minister Churchill to Buckingham Palace five weeks later, it's no surprise to see him suggest giving his eldest daughter more responsibility.

Churchill later confides in his wife that he suspects the king has cancer. And despite the placating tones from royal aide (and Princess Margaret crush) Peter Townsend, it is cancer. King George is finally told about his tumor and his failing health.

The health issues prompt the dying, increasingly sentimental monarch to get things in order. Lilibet is given a sort of tutorial on "How to Rule the United Kingdom and All the Places it Invaded." That includes replacing her father on his Commonwealth tour, which Philip is not happy about. He'd much rather pick out curtains for their new home, Clarence House, than see the world and shake hands with the locals.

He doesn't have much choice. The king, who coughed up blood upon awakening, drags his son-in-law (hello, naked bum shot) for some shooting and some straight talk about Lilibet.

"She is the job," he puts it plainly to Philip. "She is the essence of your duty. Loving her, protecting her. Of course you’ll miss your career, but doing this for me, doing this for her, I know no greater act of patriotism, or love."

Philip says he understands, which is what any young man would do when their father-in-law is holding a shotgun. Lilibet, meanwhile, tries slipping behind her father's desk, not yet realizing how soon it will be hers. She doesn't have Wikipedia, you see.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Elizabeth (Claire Foy) addresses the crowd in Kenya.
Episode 2

With all due respect to Colin Firth — he did win an Oscar for his performance in The King's Speech, after all — having Jared Harris play King George VI is a stroke of casting genius. He makes the monarch seem both earnest and pathetic. Also, we're still not over what happened to Lane on Mad Men, so we get it.

Anyway, Lane/George is feeling like a new man, even though his doctor is all but clanging a huge bell and shouting, "Dead man walking." Churchill, meanwhile, is feeling like a dirty old man and has reduced his beautiful blonde secretary’s duties to reading him his correspondence while he snoozes in the bathtub. This kind of "boorish" behavior has helped him rise up the ranks to head of Fox News caused his party leaders to plot his exit.

Speaking of men behaving badly, there's Prince Philip exhibiting that culturally insensitive streak we all know and loathe. In Nairobi, he compliments a tribal leader on his "hat."

"It's a crown," Lilibet hisses. Girl, you've got about 60 more years of this shit.

Tone-deaf remarks aside, the Commonwealth Tour is going well. The royal couple are mating like rabbits and dodging elephant attacks. They're also discussing a move back to Malta so that Philip can resume his military service and be the big man of the house he wants to be. Good luck with that one.

Lilibet isn't the only princess getting hot and heavy. Back in Sandringham, Princess Margaret can't resist smooching her married lover, Peter Townsend, right where anyone can see them. King George VI is merely just having his royal arse kissed by a scheming Anthony Eden (Jeremy Northam, forever and ever Gwyneth Paltrow's dashing Mr. Knightley). During a hunting trip, Eden suggests that the monarch have a word with Churchill about stepping down as PM. George won't hear of it. It's not his style to intervene — Eden will just have to deal with it.

It is George's style to belt out some tunes with Princess Margaret, who's every bit as feisty as Lilibet is dour (sorry). He ends the night by watching news footage of his other daughter's trip in Africa. Then, he dies.

It's hard to imagine how people would react to the death of a monarch because, well, it hasn't happened in most of our — or our parents’ — lifetimes. King George VI was the last and it's Heartbreak City.

Everyone is obviously bereft, particularly Princess Margaret, who breaks down in tears as she interrupts her father's embalming. A stricken Churchill says that Princess Lilibet, currently off the grid and dispensing car advice in Kenya, must be notified. When the news finally breaks, her aide (yes, Bertie from Downton Abbey) rushes off to find her. As it happens, she's writing a letter to her "papa" (sob) when Philip comes in to tell her.

After a brief moment to collect herself, the grieving daughter turns to more practical matters. She must pack her bags. She needs a black dress. She also needs a royal name — and when she says she'd like to keep it as Elizabeth, her aide Martin responds with "then long live Queen Elizabeth."

And that's how Lilibet becomes Elizabeth. As she leaves the lodge, a man comes over to kiss her heels. The photographers show respect by not reaching for their cameras. As they drive to the airport, she spies the tribal king from before. They are both monarchs now.

The king's death sets forth a series of power plays. Philip is no longer lord and master — and he never will be. The king's aide, the intimidating Tommy, will replace Martin. Despite being called out by Tommy for cheating on his wife with Princess Margaret, Peter Townsend accepts a new role in Elizabeth's household. And Churchill sleeps through his important cabinet meeting, prompting Foreign Secretary Eden to take his seat.

Instead of curtseying to her mother and grandmother, a mourning Elizabeth returns to find them dressed in black and curtseying to her. Churchill trots out the "God save the Queen" line, but it's Queen Mary's remarks that really sink in.

According to the wry grandmother, Elizabeth Mountbatten has been "replaced by Elizabeth Regina."

"The two Elizabeths will frequently be in conflict with one another," she observes in a letter. "The fact is, the crown must win, must always win."

Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: King George VI (Jared Harris) and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Victoria Hamilton).
Episode 3

The Duke of Windsor wasn't just born to be king; he was born to be a reality star. Can't you just imagine him and Wallis Snapchatting their outfit changes, filming confessionals in which they snipe about "Shirley Temple" behind her back, and getting boozy during appearances on Watch What Happens Live? The man was truly born before his time.

The Windsor family drama makes the Kardashians look like the Brady Bunch. A flashback to 1936 shows Prince Edward abdicating the throne against his mother's fervent wishes, dumping the responsibility on the weary shoulders of his brother Bertie (a.k.a. King George VI) and, by extension, Lilibet.

But that won't stop Edward (who now goes by the Duke of Windsor, or David) from turning up to meddle with his late brother's funeral arrangements. There's no love lost between him and the grieving Queen Mum, who is surprisingly testy and a bit boozy these days. A frosty Queen Mary can only drive the knife deeper by remarking that Bertie was the perfect son. Hey, if you're going to forsake your family for the love of an American divorcée, you can expect some serious shade.

Watching Edward and the royals insult each other is a real delight. He calls Elizabeth "Shirley Temple" and regards his relatives as "cold” and "thin-lipped." The Queen Mum doesn't mince her words, either. Wallis Simpson is a "Jezebel." He's a "selfish monster." The Queen Mum is sure he's only there to get his hands on some money — and she's right. Edward immediately whimpers to his mother about losing his allowance and is outraged that his wife isn't invited to the king's funeral. #RoyalProblems.

He's not the only man doing Elizabeth's head in. Philip wants to continue living in Clarence House, instead of Buckingham Palace, and insists on having their children, Charles and Anne, keep his Mountbatten name. Having the royals rebrand as the House of Mountbatten is quite the social-climbing coup and the jealous Prince of Hanover is at pains to stop that from happening. He wastes no time in tattling to Queen Mary about the proposed name change.

Elizabeth's rise to queen is less "YAS" and more "meh." The woman can literally get nothing done her way without Churchill busting out some Wonder Woman bullet-deflecting bracelets and shutting her down.

"Yes, I am queen," she says, pushing the Mountbatten name change, "but I am also a woman, and a wife, to a man whose pride and whose strength are in part what attracted me to him."

Tough. The Mountbatten name — which displeases Churchill, the Cabinet, and Queen Mary — is kicked to the curb like a drunk at closing time. Elizabeth tries to leverage Churchill's desire for a delayed coronation — which will help him fend off political rivals — into approval for staying at Clarence House, but that's also rejected. So much for being a #girlboss.

On top of it all, she has to sit through a tense brunch with Edward. He finally apologizes for giving up the throne and thus robbing her of the opportunity to be "an ordinary English countrywoman living out of the spotlight." He still wants money and respect for Wallis, but heads back home with the hope that he'll at least have some influence with his regal niece.

And Philip? Well, he's not a happy camper.

"You've taken my career from me, you've taken my home, you've taken my name," he pouts.

We thought we heard generations of women laughing in response to his little tantrum, but it must have been our imagination. Do get over it, Philip.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: John Lithgow as Winston Churchill.
Episode 4

Philip's flying, Queen Mary's dying, and a mysterious weather warning has everyone losing their shit. Turns out, "foggy London Town" isn't just a charming nickname.

Unless you took British Meteorological History in school, you haven't heard of the massive fog that rolled into London on December 6, 1952. It was more than just a "real pea-souper;” it was poisonous and reduced visibility to dangerous levels. All told, the Great Smog of 1952 is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 3,500 to 4,000 people, though the real number could be closer to 12,000. It also lead to the passing of the Clean Air Act of 1956. Oh, and let's see: It was all kinda Churchill's fault.

We learn that Churchill had been urged to create clean-air areas in London to reduce pollution. Instead, he did the opposite, telling citizens to burn as much coal as they liked so that London would seem like a booming, prosperous metropolis. Labour Party rival Clement Attlee intercepts a warning about the incoming fog and wonders how to use this information against the PM.

Sure enough, the fog hits and the city falls apart. Philip is grumpy because he can't continue his flying lessons with Margaret's lover, Peter Townsend. Queen Elizabeth takes the "stiff upper lip" approach and insists on walking to her appointments. One appointment involves the sickly Queen Mary impressing on her the importance of religion. The royals were anointed by god, Mary tells her granddaughter, and we all collectively roll our eyes and wonder what the big guy in the sky made of Tampon-gate.

The queen's meeting with that naughty Churchill is much more productive. She presses him about taking action against the fog and pollution, but he insists it will all pass. He's far angrier to learn that Philip has been flying without government approval. Both Attlee and Lord Mountbatten are gunning for Churchill's head on a platter, but Elizabeth is still unsure about whether to intervene or to follow her father's hands-off approach to PMs.

Something happens to finally snap Churchill out of his “the smog is an act of god and I won’t lift a finger” reverie. His lovely assistant, Venetia, is struck and killed by a bus on her way back from dropping her sick roommate off at the hospital. The friend was ill because of the smog; the bus couldn't see Venetia because of the low visibility.

Churchill is obviously upset by the death, but he's also a politician who knows how to spin things in his favor. He delays Queen Elizabeth's request for a private meeting and calls in the press. In an impassioned speech, he announces that the government will be giving the NHS more money for staff and medical equipment and will call a public inquiry into the causes of air pollution (like, ahem, burning coal). He's not only being praised as a "true leader in crisis," he's saved his own neck, too.

Come the next morning, the sun has broken through the clouds and a suddenly blameless Churchill can only flash the queen a nice, shit-eating grin. Elizabeth knows she's been played and later tells Queen Mary that it felt wrong to not intervene with the government's plan of action.

"To do nothing is the hardest job of all, and it will take every ounce of energy that you have," the wise old woman responds. She adds that Elizabeth is not entitled to a point of view.

We like tiaras as much as the next person, but this job just keeps getting more and more dismal. Elizabeth can't do anything and Churchill gets away with everything. Typical.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Alex Jennings and Lia Williams).
Episode 5

Yay! Edward is back — and he's cattier than ever! And having sex! But he's also a bit melancholy. We're torn. Do we love him, hate him, or do we just love to hate him?

Hold that thought. It's Elizabeth's big day, as the coronation has finally arrived. She reminisces about watching her father reluctantly trying on his own jumbo-sized crown as she stomps around in the present day, trying to keep the damn thing balanced on her head. We love the valet's response to her question about borrowing the crown for practice: "Borrow it, ma'am? From whom? If it's not yours, whose is it?"

For those keeping track, Elizabeth can run off with any priceless heirloom she pleases, but she still can't make anything important happen. It takes serious effort — and quite a few off-color remarks from Philip — to get her husband installed as the chairman of her coronation committee. The fuddy-duddies in charge aren't receptive to the prince's modern and egalitarian ideas. There's a lot of side-eye when he suggests having the ceremony televised, which will make British citizens feel like they're a part of the ceremony.

Elizabeth eventually comes around to the TV nonsense, but she has her own requirement: Hubby has got to kneel at her feet. We know Philip comes off as a sensitive, secure soul with a keen understanding of women's rights (just seeing if you were paying attention), but his reaction is pretty knuckle-dragging. The words "eunuch" and "entitled" crop up.

"Are you my wife or my queen?" he asks, outraged at the thought of showing her some respect.

Stupid question. "I'm both!"

"I want to be married to my wife," he whines.

"I am both and a strong man would be able to kneel to both," she fires back. Boom. Mic drop. Run back to your cave, Philip. Spoiler: He eventually kneels down during the ceremony in a nice impersonation of a woke bae.

Guess who’s also having a temper tantrum? Edward! At first, he and Wallis are blissfully and desperately trying to inspire #couplegoals with a photo shoot at their Paris home. They discuss Queen Mary's deteriorating health in bed and end the night with an alarming "shall we fuck?" suggestion. He heads to London alone, entertaining himself by lighting up cigarettes for his dying, bedridden mother and writing nasty letters to Wallis about the poor woman's "vicious" behavior.

Edward ain't seen nothing yet. Tommy and the Archbishop of Canterbury summon him to a meeting during which they discourage him from attending the coronation. What's more, there's no way in hell Wallis will be invited. He is appalled, but recovers long enough to suggest that they spread the news that former kings like him don't attend coronations. It's a face-saving gesture and the men agree. Edward is still trying to recover his dignity when he gets word that Queen Mary has died.

His reaction, in a letter to Wallis: "I was sad, of course, but let's not forget how she clung to such hatred for me, her eldest, to the last. I'm afraid her blood ran as icy-cold when she was alive as it does now she's dead."

He sticks around for the funeral and heads home in time to host a coronation-viewing party at home in Paris. He's pleased as punch to be giving his own color commentary to his socialite friends, but you can see that he's feeling nostalgic. For all his bitterness and cutting remarks, he's still a British royal who is prone to homesickness. Unfortunately for Wallis, he's also prone to playing the bagpipes.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Ben Miles and Vanessa Kirby as Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret.
Episode 6

There's a lot of drama in this episode, and it all amounts to this: Margaret and Peter are in love and want to get married, and nobody, save the media and the British public, wants that to happen.

Elizabeth works the "I'm not a regular queen, I'm a cool queen" routine when her sister breaks the news. The thing is, she's not a cool queen. She may want to be a loyal and supportive sister, but her good girl instincts and adherence to the rules prevent her from really rocking the boat.

And yes, the boat is really rocking from Margaret's romance with a (sniff) divorced commoner. Philip thinks it's a scandal, and the Queen Mother is determined to stop the whole thing from happening. Margaret is pulling an Edward, and we all know how that one turned out.

The new plan is for Margaret to wait until she's 25 years old, at which point she'll no longer need Elizabeth's permission to marry. Peter, meanwhile, will be posted to Brussels, which means his romantic getaway with Margaret to Rhodesia is off. Margaret handles this about as well as you would expect.

Elizabeth tries to throw the star-crossed lovers a bone by having Peter accompany her on a trip to Northern Ireland. The plan backfires when the press falls all over him. The attention is distracting, and the queen doesn't like it.

The fallout is swift and cruel. Our new favorite villain, Tommy, ruthlessly sends Peter off to Brussels with just three hours' notice. A fuming Margaret calls her sister from Rhodesia, and rightly lets her have it.

"You reap what you sow," the heartbroken princess warns Elizabeth. She may be queen, but she's also kind of a shitty sister. Team Margaret all the way.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth.
Episode 7

It's a bad episode for brains. We learn that Queen Elizabeth isn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer and that Winston Churchill is prone to strokes. Also: Trying to follow the inner workings of the Soviet Union's hydrogen-bomb testing makes our heads hurt.

A flashback to Elizabeth's childhood reveals that her tutor focused more on the complexities of ruling the United Kingdom — including the importance of trust between the crown and the government — than he did on basic things like reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Algebra may be "undignified," but it'd be handy for the queen to at least be able to read a newspaper without feeling like a dum-dum.

The monarch lets the frequently tipsy Queen Mother have it for not providing her with a proper education. Elizabeth whines that she can only talk about dogs and horses. On the bright side, she's a shoo-in for editor of Horse & Hound.

"We taught you how to be a lady, a princess," the Queen Mother shoots back. "What do you want, a degree?"

Hell yes. Elizabeth decides to get a cute old man tutor to brush up her education.

There's a lot of office politics in this episode. Tommy the Tyrant is finally retiring and Elizabeth pushes to have Martin reinstated as her top aide instead of the man who is next in line, Michael Adeane. Unfortunately, Martin's wife blabs all, Michael complains, and Tommy makes Martin give up the job so that Michael can take over as originally planned. Enraged that her wishes have once again been ignored, Elizabeth confronts Tommy. He treats her to some heavy-duty mansplaining about how individualistic decisions in the monarchy are "rot." Her uncle Edward was an individual — look at how that turned out. It's all a bit blah blah blah, we're saving you from yourself, blah blah blah.

So. Churchill. He's getting angsty about the Soviets and wants the Americans to help bring them back into the fold. He sends Foreign Secretary Eden to D.C. to meet with the Yanks, but the ailing official's poor health interferes. Instead of negotiating with the Americans, Eden winds up in a Boston hospital, awaiting gallbladder surgery.

The Brits may have stiff upper lips, but they've got crappy immune systems. Churchill is suddenly felled by a minor stroke, which means he can't travel to meet President Eisenhower. The government pulls a fast one on the queen by telling her it's merely a case of man flu. She agrees to invite Eisenhower to Buckingham Palace to make things easier. But then, Churchill has another stroke. The Eisenhower meeting is canceled and the queen is none the wiser.

Until her old secretary, Jock, comes in and spills the beans by mistake. Elizabeth is not amused to learn that Churchill and Lord Salisbury have been lying to her and they each get stern lectures. She hammers in the importance of trust to Churchill, insisting that he no longer treat her as a young woman. He agrees, admitting that he can see that she is "ready to lead."

She's also ready to get laid. What better way to celebrate a rare victory and moment of power than by having your husband, Prince Philip, tell you to "get on your knees"? One royal BJ, coming up.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Trouble in paradise for Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth (Matt Smith and Claire Foy).
Episode 8

If The Crown was 27 Dresses, Elizabeth would be Katherine Heigl's character: high-strung, martyr complex, unable to relinquish control, stickler for the rules at all costs. Margaret's the fun sister played by Malin Akerman: a bit irresponsible, flirty, feisty, and determined to be the life of the party. But it's not 27 Dresses. It's actual history (dramatized for entertainment purposes, yes, but still). Real life is so much messier.

The royal sisters can't stop clashing. Margaret offers to give the speech at the unveiling of their late father's memorial. Elizabeth pulls rank and gives the speech herself. Margaret can't marry the man she loves, because she doesn't have her sister's permission, forcing her to settle for long-distance phone calls while Peter is still banished to Brussels. And when the Queen Mother suggests that Elizabeth hand over some royal duties to her younger sister while she's away on her royal tour, it's a wonder the women don't start pulling one another's hair.

There is a tense scene involving Margaret wielding a sword while practicing the art of deputizing knights. She accuses her sister of having "no character." They trade barbs about their behavior and the Peter issue. Elizabeth is acting pompous, prompting the Queen Mother to tell her to snap out of it. Margaret needs space to shine, she says of her younger daughter. Suck it up, Elizabeth.

We can't blame the Queen Mother for not wanting to stick around in that hostile environment. The royal matriarch is feeling melancholy and useless, so she visits friends in Scotland for some respite. Like Margaret, she's resentful of having no power. The trip, however, seems to restore her mood, especially when she casually buys a castle from a local man who has no idea who she is.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Philip have embarked on an exhaustive royal tour, or, as the prince calls it, "the Commonwealth Road Show." The trips to Bermuda, Jamaica, and Australia try Philip's patience. He accuses his wife of overdoing it — and he's not wrong. Elizabeth's smiling so much to crowds of well-wishers that she gets a cheek spasm and needs facial injections. And you thought your resting bitch face was bad.

Back at home, Margaret is the hostess with the mostest. Against Martin's instructions, she plunders her sister's jewels and turns a bland ceremony into a lively cocktail party. The crowd of ambassadors seems to eat it up, but Martin looks like he has hemorrhoids. Elizabeth is rankled, worried that Margaret will outshine her.

That, no doubt, contributes to the tension between Elizabeth and Philip. The couple eventually lose their shit at one another during a stop in Australia. He delivers some low blows about her father and she storms out after him. Oops! The press can see it all. Elizabeth composes herself, saunters over, and is pleasantly surprised when a newsman assures her that footage of the fight will never see the light of day. Take note, TMZ.

Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Churchill (John Lithgow) sits for painter Graham Sutherland (Stephen Dillane).
Episode 9

The fairy-tale version of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's relationship is that she met him when she was 13 and never looked twice at another man. The real version is that the world narrowly avoided having a Prince Porchy.

"Porchy" is Lord Porchester, the man everyone secretly wishes had married Elizabeth. They're a good match: They both love horses, the queen blushes whenever he's around, and he's not prone to staying out late and getting boozy like that oaf Philip. Alas, Porchy has just proposed marriage to a beautiful American woman and Elizabeth is stuck with Philip's lack of understanding about "horse humps."

We hope you enjoy equine sexual relations, because there's so, so much of it here. Elizabeth and Porchy are in the breeding business, which makes Philip seethe with jealousy. Porchy has a direct line to the queen. Porchy doesn't always get the cold shoulder. Porchy, Porchy, Porchy.

Elizabeth finally calls him out. Her life would indeed be easier had she married Porchy. It's rather inconvenient that Philip happens to be the only man she's ever loved. Can he say the same about her?

Philip doesn't respond and the air between husband and wife turns frosty.

Things are heating up (literally) over at Chez Churchill, however. In honor of his 80th birthday, a portrait of the PM has been commissioned. The painter, Graham Sutherland, is aloof and inscrutable. Churchill, himself an avid painter, bristles at Sutherland's artistic direction, but the men eventually bond over their love of art and the shared experience of having lost a child. There's a touching moment when Sutherland notes that Churchill's painting of a pond may be a reaction to the death of his daughter, Marigold. Churchill considers this and visibly softens, reflecting on his loss.

It's perhaps that moment that makes him feel so betrayed when Sutherland's painting is finally revealed. It's not the most flattering of portraits, but, hey, Churchill wasn't exactly the kind of guy you'd mistake for Brad Pitt or Michael Fassbender. The PM rejects the painting, which he says makes him look like he's "taking a dump." Funny how you never come across that quote.

He confronts Sutherland, but the painter stands his ground. "Art is cruel," Sutherland explains. He was painting only what he saw. It just happens that what he saw was "decay and frailty."

Churchill is stunned to hear this, but it has an effect. He tells his wife, Clemmie, that Sutherland is right. His time has passed. He offers his resignation to the queen, sealing the deal with a kiss on the forehead. Awkward!

"I have nothing left to teach you," he tells her, sneaking in one last mansplain-y sentence.
There's just one final item of business: The painting. Clemmie has the offensive artwork set on fire and watches it burn, burn, burn.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Netflix.
Pictured: Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy) poses for Cecil Beaton.
Episode 10

Royals always want an heir and a spare, but that does seem to stir up a lot of sibling rivalry. In 1936, Edward and the future George VI had it out over the former's decision to abdicate and betray his country and family in favor of Wallis. That prompted Bertie/George to call in his young daughters and make them pledge to never (Never!) let one another down.

How's that working out? Eh, not so well. Margaret has held up her end of the bargain by waiting until her 25th birthday to marry Peter. It's all been a bait-and-switch, though. Elizabeth soon learns that the Royal Marriages Act prevents Margaret from marrying her divorced lover until she's received approval from both Houses of Parliament and endured a 12-month waiting period.

As new Prime Minister Anthony Eden explains, it's pretty much a lost cause. Many cabinet members are morally opposed to the marriage, church officials won't budge while Peter's ex-wife is still living, and the Queen Mother is conspiring with her old friend, Tommy, to sabotage the romance once and for all. What a bunch of cock-blockers these people are.

The public is shipping Margaret and Peter hard and the press is hounding the couple; one scene in which they're being pursued by a car of reporters recalls Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed's fatal car accident in Paris.

Even Philip is rooting for the lovers. "Think like a human being and sister and not the head of state," he urges Elizabeth. And while she does make an effort to change the law that is barring her sister's happiness, she's not being as ballsy as she should be.

The final nail in the coffin is a phone conversation between Elizabeth and Edward. He sympathizes with Margaret, having himself given up the throne to marry a divorced commoner. Ultimately, however, he feels like a "king without a kingdom." It's just what Elizabeth needs to hear to make up her mind. She decides to be a queen first and a sister second. Unless Margaret is willing to renounce her title, country, and wealth and marry Peter abroad, the marriage is a no-go.

A teary Margaret is obviously heartbroken and bitter when Elizabeth breaks the bad news. Margaret tells Peter that she'll never forgive her sister, nor will she ever marry anyone else (spoiler: she will). He announces their split to the media and returns to Brussels.

That's one relationship over. Another is on shaky ground. Philip is constantly being pestered over his negative attitude and parenting skills. Everyone wants him to be more enthusiastic about being on Team Royal Family and he resents it.

The season ends with the sickly Eden popping pills and shooting himself up with medication, all in the midst of a debacle with Egypt's Colonel Nasser. He's not exactly in top form to be handling the impending Suez Crisis.

Philip, meanwhile, is being sent to Australia for five months to work on his attitude. He's unhappy and lets Elizabeth know it. She's too busy posing for her Cecil Beaton portrait to deal with her marriage. She's now "Elizabeth Regina," a woman who has sacrificed sister and husband for kingdom and country. God save the queen and roll on, season 2.

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