PREVIOUS: Episode 9, “Assassins”
In a flashback, we see Edward at the time of his abdication. His brother George is questioning him about the decision, asking if he loves Wallis Simpson more than his country, his family, and his own brother. “Yes,” Edward replies without hesitation. In a different flashback, we see George talking to his young daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. “I want you to promise me one thing,” he says. “That you will never put anyone or anything before one another. You are sisters. Above all else, you must never let one other down.” It seems like they have strayed from that promise, especially over Margaret’s relationship with Peter Townsend.
In the present, Margaret has turned 25, which means she can finally choose whom to marry. She announces to her family that after waiting two years, she still intends to marry Peter. But then, Elizabeth gets some bad news. Apparently there’s a second part to the Royal Marriages Act that nobody knew about until right now! Turning 25 only means that Margaret can give notice of her intention to marry. For her to actually marry, both houses of Parliament need to approve and then she has to wait another year. Seems suspicious that no one told her about this before, and so it makes sense when we learn that her private secretary Michael Adeane made this up. Elizabeth is being manipulated by the men in uniform officials once again, and it’s more screwed up than ever.
Margaret starts to talk about the wedding, and Elizabeth tries to get her to delay it, only saying that there’s a minor problem she needs to fix. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, The Queen Mother tells her daughter that she thinks Philip is taking out his frustrations on little Charles. Great, so he’s not a good husband, or a good father. She thinks Philip still hasn’t adjusted to palace life. Elizabeth defends him for some reason. Later, she asks him to go to Australia for the Olympics in her name, but Philip sees right through her proposed vacation. He knows he’s being sent away in hopes that he’ll get things together while away.
NEXT: More bad news from Eden
Elizabeth questions Eden about Margaret’s marriage. Things go from bad to worse: He says that even if she applied for Parliament’s permission, she might not get it. He says he’ll see what he can do. Unaware of the new stage of this conflict, Margaret and Peter are reunited after two years apart and share a passionate kiss. Eden comes back to Elizabeth to say that Parliament is still opposed to the marriage (can’t anyone let this woman live?). Eden tells her that Margaret can marry Peter if she agrees to give up her rights and money and be banished abroad. And Margaret seems to want to do it. This is starting to sound as harsh as Edward’s abdication. Is wanting to marry someone you love really deservig of being exiled from your own family? Margaret and Peter are being pursued by the press again, but they find some time to kiss and snuggle upstairs at a party.
Elizabeth brings up the childhood promise from the beginning of the episode to Eden. She also makes the point that there are four divorced men on Cabinet, including him. Slay, Elizabeth. Take no prisoners. Eden promises to do his best. Again. Of course, he doesn’t really mean it.
Elizabeth calls the one person who understands this situation: Edward. And he tells her to put the kingdom first. What? This is coming from the man who gave up the throne for love? Could the man with no regrets have some regrets after all? Elizabeth eventually has to give in to what everyone else wants, like she does every time. We can see that it pains her to go back on her promise that Margaret and Peter can be together. But maybe this time she will finally learn to stop fighting and accept that she has no choice about anything. It’s a waste of her time and energy. Maybe if she stops trying, this job will get easier.
Margaret brings up their childhood promise, but Elizabeth can’t keep it, no matter how much she wants to. Margaret brings up how Elizabeth went against convention by marrying Philip, but she dismisses the comparison. Well, thank god Margaret and Peter had the good sense not to sleep with each other under the assumption that they would be married, because that would have been an out-of-control scandal.
Margaret, distraught, breaks the news to Peter and vows that she will never forgive her sister and she will never marry another man. Peter heads back to his position in Brussels, perhaps because he can’t bear to be in England.
Philip bitterly tells Elizabeth that his “time out” trip has been extended to five months, and brusquely walks away without saying goodbye. Moments later, Elizabeth must get her portrait taken. She tries to smile and pretend everything is fine. We know otherwise.