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- Nancy Bilyeau
Margaret appears at her engagement party wearing a truly sensational caped and bejeweled pale pink gown; Elizabeth, monopolized by Tony’s mother, wears a modest white dress and watches the room with disapproval — taking note in particular of Camilla Fry, speaking quite seriously to Tony. The queen is bothered enough by the sight of them, so it’s a good thing she can’t hear what they’re saying: Camilla is pregnant, and she’s 99 percent sure it’s Tony’s. He’s hopeful for that one percent.
“If you needed any further evidence to prove that we are a changed country, then this is it,” Philip snarls to his wife as he takes in the lively soiree, glaring at the conga line as if it were made up of frat boys wielding Solo cups. “It’s all changed so quickly — within a generation.” The dialogue does feel a little contrived as historical context, but it’s forgivable as a key reminder for us to really pay attention to how quickly things are changing — a huge theme this season, especially following that Lord Altrincham debacle in episode 5.
Though annoyed that he’s making a bit of a scene, Elizabeth agrees with her husband, and implies to Michael Adeane that she’d like him to look into the habits and history of her future brother-in-law. So who does Adeane call when he needs some “discreet reconnaissance work” done? Tommy Lascelles, naturally! Though he may invite the occasional vampire comparison, I must say I am nothing short of delighted every time Tommy shows up to spill some scalding hot English breakfast tea — and he doesn’t disappoint here, delivering the salacious news, as always, by dancing around the issue with polite euphemisms until the queen gets the gist. “What makes his work notable is his willingness, his appetite to break barriers and conventions,” Tommy explains, most elegantly, about Tony’s photography. “And as in art, so, it could appear, in life.” In short: He has many lovers, of both sexes.
The shock of this revelation appears to be too much for the queen, who promptly goes into labor. She delivers Prince Andrew while Philip plays what appears to be a very intense game of racquetball. Following the birth of the baby, Margaret comes to see her sister and meet her nephew, but things turn sour quickly when Elizabeth asks if Margaret is only marrying Tony for “some kind of revenge.” The princess argues that Tony sets her free — “to live, to love, to break away.” Elizabeth calls out this bullsh— immediately, saying Margaret will never break away because she loves the glamour and status of being a royal too much, whereas she, Elizabeth, is the one who wishes she could be invisible.
“Well, in that case, your achievement’s all the more remarkable,” Margaret fires back. “You’ve managed to become invisible while wearing the crown.”
So with all this really, really bad feeling existing between the sisters, it, um, seems like a good time for a wedding, right? There’s a distinct coldness to the final sequence, in which everyone — including a very pregnant Camilla Fry and Tony’s lover Jacqui — gets ready for the royal wedding, which was the first to be televised. The bride looks lovely, and Philip, tasked with walking her down the aisle, is charming and affectionate toward her as they ride to the Abbey.
It is the exchange in the groom’s carriage that sticks the most, however. “Well, not bad, you’d have to say,” Tony says to his mother, unable to resist. “For the son that always brought you shame, the son that you rejected, who was never good enough. I suppose I always thought you’d eventually find it in you to admit you’re proud of me. Perhaps even that you love me.”
The mother of the groom, waving as she looks out the carriage window, pauses briefly before replying. “Darling, I hope you haven’t done all this for me.”
With that, Princess Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones get married.