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The Crown recap: Season 1, Episode 6

‘A piece of fluff’ rocks the royals as the Queen weathers her first scandal

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Alex Bailey/Netflix

The Crown

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Nancy Bilyeau

PREVIOUS: Episode 5, “Smoke and Mirrors”

Gelignite is a highly explosive substance comprised of nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose. Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend’s love affair certainly served as a powder keg of scandal only weeks after Elizabeth’s coronation.

The secretly happy couple watches the Queen greet the crowds at her first Royal Derby while they cozy-up and revel in being in love. Margaret phones Elizabeth asking her and Phillip for dinner with Peter. Afraid of all the listening operators, Margaret refuses to even offer her sister a clue as to the occasion and piques Elizabeth’s interest.

After a day drinking with his “lunch club,” Phillip glosses over some of the more questionable portions of his afternoon, instead telling Elizabeth he was listening to a photojournalist detail political unrest across the world. Yeah, that lasted for about a minute before the slideshow got a whole lot more promiscuous. Elizabeth plays dumb when Phillip starts wondering what this formal dinner could possibly be about.

Margaret is on edge as dinner gets underway and shoos all the servants from the room before finally telling her sister she and Peter wish to get married. Margaret tells Elizabeth, “It can’t be a terrible shock to you,” and asks her sovereign for her permission to marry. Margaret is 23 and therefore cannot marry without royal permission until 25, which soon becomes important. 

Elizabeth tells Margaret she’ll have to sort out the logistics as Peter was previously married and is now divorced, but kindly says, “as your sister I’m never going to oppose it.” Margaret is immediately and rather adorably thrilled running over to kiss her sister and the happy princess is soon partying in celebration.

After the congratulations are out of the way, Phillip lets his elitist show when he learns his wife had an idea about what was going on between Margaret and Peter. Phillip thinks Peter is “desperately dull,” but Elizabeth understands the attractiveness of a handsome war hero and family friend. Hey, let bygones be bygones. 

Apparently all it took was “a piece of fluff” to bring Margaret and Peter’s happy union crashing down and soon news of the impending scandal reaches the ears of the Queen Mother. Tommy, Elizabeth’s bore of a private secretary basically tattled on Margaret to her mother, instead of telling the woman he serves: the Queen.

NEXT: Elizabeth tries to solve Margaret’s problem – spoiler alert: it doesn’t work