In a climatic scene that ends weeks of doubt about whether King Simon would really go ahead and end the monarchy, we saw His Royal Highness wear his big boy pants and put his plan into action.
That’s right: After lots of deliberation, King Simon finally made the decision to ask Parliament for a referendum to abolish the monarchy in a televised speech. Maybe he took his sweet time—as in seven episodes—to secretly polish his talking points in preparation for the announcement? After all, his speech was pretty impressive:
“The modern monarchy is little more than ceremonial window dressing, with pageantry and ritual and no real impact on your very real lives. I am ashamed of the blatant excesses of this family, who have done nothing to earn their elevated position,” King Simon said, looking straight into a TV monitor while his family wondered where he was. “A life so advantaged and yet so uniquely constrained has turned my once proud and principled family into a pack of zoo animals… I have failed as a father to a family and as a father of this nation. For years, I felt it was my duty to wear the crown, but like you, my first duty is to be a parent, a husband, a person of integrity who does what’s best for his family. I think this is what is best for mine, and for the family of this nation as a whole. Look into your hearts. I have looked into mine.”
It’s an altogether appropriate speech, when you consider what we’ve seen of the royal family in the season to date: The Queen does little other than organize tea parties and benefits between tête-à-têtes with her lover; the Princess snorts coke ‘round the clock while her brother considers himself professional place holder, and Cyrus doesn’t even pretend to keep his nose clean while sniffing out intrigue both in and outside the palace. If this family didn’t have millions of pounds and titles to their name, they’d basically be Honey Boo Boo and co—and we all know how well that’s turned out. (So sad, right?)
But no one likes being called out, especially not this entitled group. “FML,” says the diamond-draped Grand Duchess of Oxford (a spectacular Joan Collins), after catching the last few seconds of King Simon’s speech. It seems as though her arrival was just a tad too late; the Duchess had made her big entrance earlier in the episode with the intention of prodding her daughter to ensure “the survival of the monarchy.” Theirs isn’t exactly standard mom-and-daughter chitchat, with lots of hints about an all-important sacrifice made by the Duchess for her daughter years ago.
“You have failed as wife, as a mother, as a daughter. And most devastatingly as all, a queen,” the Duchess says, within seconds of her visit to the palace. “Have you forgot about everything that was done to get you on the throne in the first place?”
There’s also the matter of Liam and Ophelia—a matter that has caused the Queen a considerable amount of stress, even before the King’s all-important announcement. For the record, the pair are going super-strong: Liam has even insisted that his royal security detail stay with her at her dance rehearsal after topless photos of her from Monaco are published. (Ladies, just don’t do it.) “My last boyfriend gave me flowers,” Ophelia purrs. “This one gives me his best bodyguard. How sweet.”
It is pretty touching, which is why the Queen decides to pay off a paparazzo to agitate Ophelia by screaming out mention of her mother as a group of photogs are gathered outside Ophelia’s dance studio. Ophelia, all aglow after having been offered a chance to audition for a super prestigious dance company, isn’t prepared for the attack and breaks down into tears.
Back to the King’s announcement though: The twins are deeply unsettled in the aftermath. Though Liam thinks he’s partly to blame—given the sad state of diplomatic affairs having to do with Ophelia’s now-infamous use of a certain bow and arrow in Monaco—Eleanor assures him otherwise. “To be honest, I don’t think we’re seeing the whole picture. I think there’s a whole piece missing… we’ll have a heart-to-heart.” This is the Eleanor we love, confident and assured (and Jasper-less, since he’s still with Helena’s security detail). She tells him she’ll go speak to the King.
Ah, the King. After his speech, he’s run down to the kitchens, where he tells the staff that they’re still employed and asks about Prudence. Some woman says they were instructed to let her go; news which makes him runs up stairs with the mission of taking Helena and Cyrus to task. “You just couldn’t help yourself,” he says, quite possibly the most angry we’ve ever seen the normally docile king. “You had run off the last person in this house who had integrity.”
“You could have at least slept with her instead of fawning like a teenager,” Helena retorts. “Shut your mouth. It wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t sexual,” he insists. “The person with true nobility has been banished, but you’re still here. You should both be ashamed of yourselves.”
Then, the King tells Helena “no more lovers” and says Cyrus will be stripped of titles and capital. “You’re out. And you’re out. To hell with both of you.”
NEXT: King Simon saves the best for last[pagebreak]
Then comes the ultimate zinger, aimed directly at his sovereign queen: “The only reason you’re still here is because you have a ring on your finger. Not any more, bitch.”
That moment deserved applause, but it’s over too quickly when Eleanor finds her father as he retreats from the scene. He’s on a roll though, and doesn’t spare Eleanor while he’s in the mind to preach from his high-and-mighty pulpit. (Though in all fairness, he is right.) “The drugs… the disrespect. Eleanor, I go easy on you. Waiting for you to be who I know you can be. But I’ve waited too long.”
She knows she’s disappointed him and immediately starts crying. (That winged liner, though, stays completely intact.) “At least give Liam another chance.”
King Simon agrees with that sentiment and asks Liam to go on a walk with him later in the evening. “Just you and me. Not as king and heir, but father and son.”
As this father-son moment is happening, the Queen finds herself in Eleanor’s room as she’s literally running away from the Duchess’s disdain over the events that have unfolded. (“God, I hate my mum,” she says.) She then asks her daughter for drugs, but Eleanor can’t muster up the effort to reach for a pill or pipe because she’s oh-so-sad. Poor little princess! It seems like not even defacing royal portraits with spray paint can make her better. She should try pizza—it works for me!
While Eleanor is spray-painting like Picasso, and Queen Helena is seeking solace in a sifter of vodka and a phone call (presumably to Captain Alistair), Liam’s found his way to Ophelia. When he visits, she’s reading an actual book (All Creatures Great and Small), which reminds her of her mom, her “best friend.” Liam stays for a while, which makes him late to his evening walk with the King. Simon sets off, clearly disappointed, but determined to walk among the people for whom he thinks he’s made the ultimate sacrifice.
Which is all fine and dandy, until it seems as though he may have sacrificed himself: In a sudden scene change, we see him clinging to the palace gates and severely wounded. The king is down!
In honor of the Duchess’ proclivity for pithy one-liners, here are her best lines:
’I see you’ve redecorated. I’d love to know whatever possessed you to choose Vegas as your theme.”
“Naked ambition and ruthless determination is what ensures the survival of the monarchy. So for the sake of your family legacy, I sincerely hope you can bolster your husband’s backbone.”
“In times of war, one must not be distracted by sentimentality… she who fears the thorn should never grasp the rose. Get your house in order.”
“Look at you, a demigod since the day you were born.”
“Don’t you know men like a little meat on the tail before they shuck the lobster?”
“Of caviar I approve. It’s a super food. But coke will rot your teeth.”
Real-life royal reference score: 2 (Helena gets painted in head-toe-toe gold for the most extravagant massage ever. Somewhere, Princess Diana is smiling. And oh, Liam’s security detail must be pretty spot-on.)