In this episode, we see a side of the Monarchy that we haven’t explored much to date. Monarchists that love the Crown, and Queen Elizabeth, but don’t approve of her mannerisms, antiquated traditions, and standoffishness. We’re introduced to Lord Altrincham (played by John Heffernan) an editor who tries to “save” the monarchy by throwing it into constitutional crisis by becoming “The Queen’s Critic.”
It all begins when the Queen gives a speech at the new Jaguar car factory for the workers. The Queen’s private secretary, Martin Charteris, questions the tone of the speech, feeling it’s too old fashioned given the “new Briton” they’re living in. He felt it a little patronizing, in other words. The Queen’s previous private secretary and friend, Tommy Lascelles, quickly schools him that he’s worrying unnecessarily, because, as he states, “The newspapers would warn us, and we would in turn threaten to boycott them from the next Royal event, because the people whom you worry about needlessly, buy their newspapers in the millions.” Martin puts his worry aside, and the rest is history.
The Queen visits the factory, and her speech is broadcast on all the radio stations. One line in particular, where she says, “We understand that in the turbulence of this anxious and active world, many of you are leading uneventful, lonely lives where dreariness is the enemy. Perhaps you don’t understand that on your steadfastness and ability to withstand the fatigue of dull, repetitive work, depend, in great measure, the happiness and prosperity of the community as a whole.” Needless to say, the bit about “dull, repetitive work” didn’t go over so well with the public.
Lord Altrincham, while listening to the speech in a dentist waiting room, takes the temperature of those around him, and realize the Queen is loosing the love of the public with such dull, uninspired speeches and out of touch mannerisms. He writes about his experiences, causing mass discussion and hatred towards him at first, but once the public reads what he has to say, he becomes their voices and more of the public turns towards him, leading towards a constitutional crisis. The Queen ignores it at first, but when Lord Altrincham goes on national tv and discusses what he feels is wrong with The Crown and how she needs to change, she agrees to see him privately. While the Palace denied that they ever actually met, a lot of his changes were made including: letting commoners and tourist tour Buckingham Palace, the Queen meeting the Public, and holding Public Addresses from Buckingham Palace instead of just radio interviews.
All in all, a very interesting episode. The question of does the monarchy need to change with the times was the epicenter of the episode, with the Queen Mother clinging desperately to the old ways while Queen Elizabeth realizes she does indeed have to change with the times to stay relevant.
What did you think of the episode? What intrigued you the most? Comment and let’s discuss.