We gave it an A-
Hello, it’s Sara V, here, taking over for the final stretch. (True story: A category on Jeopardy last week was prime ministers during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and I nailed it. Thank you, The Crown!). Anyway, let’s dig in: Were you thinking: Gee, the queen is fascinating to follow as a character and ruler but what I really would like is an episode just about the male members of the house? Well, then, you are in luck because this episode takes a long hard look at the inner workings of young Prince Charles and his father Philip — both as an adult and as a child. (I’m convinced — convinced — that this episode is some serious foreshadowing to three seasons from now when The Crown tackles the Diana years and her death. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
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We begin with seeing that our young prince is struggling at school. Kids don’t seem to like him. The queen is told that other boys that age can be cruel. (Um, that age?) Charles is…different. He’s shy and sensitive and delicate. She’s advised that Eton is the right place to send him to school and you can see she’s relieved. She tells Charles — who is equally psyched — that he’ll be within sight of the castle and can come up the hill and sleep in his bed. They just need his father to sign off. Oh yeah, about that…
Charles writes to his uncle Dickie about how happy and relieved he is. Dick writes back — with a really sweet tone we’ve not really seen before — about how lucky Charles is. He takes Charles shopping and there’s a Pretty Woman-like montage straight out of Kingsman. The posh clothes make Charles stand just a little bit taller. He almost beams.
Philip comes bounding up the palace steps in good, long, athletic strides, a trophy cup in his hand. He and Elizabeth banter cutely about rich people sports and she tries to casually slide in the news that Charles is going to Eton. Over my dead body, Philip more or less says, in the kind of way that makes it clear there is no wiggle room. He later breaks the news to his son that his former school, Gordonstoun, is what made him the man he is today. (If Elizabeth sniffed somewhere off camera, we did not hear it.) He tells Charles that the palace life he’s in is not the real world and Charles must say goodbye to those nice clothes in exchange for some drab jumpers instead.
We have our first flashback to a young Philip — handsome, tall, pouty — and you can tell just by looking at him that this is a very different kind of kid than the one he will one day have. He’s in Germany — we can tell by all the Nazis standing around him — and he complains that he doesn’t want to go, doesn’t want to leave his beloved sister. His favorite sister. The best sister ever. (Got it? He loves this sister.) She’s going to fly him to school even though she hates flying so much she wears black in case it turns into her funeral. Inside the plane they hit some air and she freaks out — a lot of people are screaming in German which, I can tell you, is never ever calming — and Philip holds her hand. Turns out the reason he’s being sent to Scotland is because his father thought he should be educated by a genius, like Dr. Hahn. Of course Dr. Hahn is a Jew so couldn’t stay in German for obvious reasons. (Ugh.) As usual, the rich have very interesting logic when it comes to right and wrong and individual choices.
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Philip flies Charles to school himself, quietly carrying on a tradition he doesn’t verbalize. Dr. Hahn is still there and is happy to see him. Philip is beaming as he booms out a cheery halllooo to the boys, and takes a deep, satisfied breath that the school is still so gray and cold. He tells Hahn he doesn’t want his son “mollycoddled” in some luxury hotel. (Mmmm, luxury hotel.) The boys have given Charles his father’s old bed by the window.
Back in England, Elizabeth watches the news covering Charles’s arrival and about how the school is famed for some TriWizard-like tournament. On the first night Charles discovers the bed by the window is actually the worst as he gets rained on all night and snapped at by the boys when he tries to stay dry.
We flash back to a morning when young Philip didn’t want to get out of that same bed. He complains about the cold and coughs in the damp Scottish air and runs in mud and, gotta say, I’m with the boys here — this looks real unfun. However, Philip’s stubborn streak is an impressive thing to behold. Even though he’s freezing, he shows those boys he can take whatever is dished out and stands under the ice cold shower with a look on his face like, How you like them royal apples? Charles may not have inherited this streak.
Yet Philip continues to resist the ways of the school, brooding by the window and refusing to do assigned tasks as he deems it beneath him as manual labor. Seems like we know who the real mollycoddled namby-pamby was, no? The other lads tease him, using some fun sharp barbs about his sisters being Nazis and the like. Philip fights one of them and gets tossed out the window. He arrives in Hahn’s office with a bloodied lip and a dark expression. Hahn, who seems like a good dude, tells Philip to think of this place as a haven away from the madness (good on him for not being like, Well your family DOES like Nazis and tossed me out of my own dang country). He tells Philip the world needs saviors.
Philip calls his sister and she’s sweet and tells him she’s expecting a baby and that he can come and spend the Christmas break with her. She then has to go back because the Nazis are partying. (Next: Charles and Philip each struggle)