Intrigue, Royalty, Duty and Power are all things that Netflix’s The Crown has in spades. Claire Foy (Wolfhall) plays Queen Elizabeth II as she ascends to the throne in an era unlike any other. Matt Smith (Doctor Who) plays opposite her as Philip Mountbatten, and the show starts at their wedding and details Elizabeth’s struggles and troubles leading the world’s most famous monarchy.
Crown’s first episode, Wolferton Splash sets the stage for a lavish show. We open with the knighting of Philip Mountbatten, and a nervous but excited Elizabeth. We watch as the two exchange a gentle word, and then are taken to the day the two marry and the elaborate set up. We are introduced to key players such as Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, and Winston Churchill
Philip waits at the podium when Winston Churchill makes a grand entrance; ensuring he is the last to join the wedding ceremony and also entering to the tune of a patriotic song song. He shames the prime minister, who we learn no one stood for upon entry. We then see that Elizabeth struggles to contain her emotion, and to speak her vows- perhaps foreshadowing for problems between the two to come?
During wedding photos, we are given information by two unnamed royal family members who watch as the couple have their photos taken. We find out no one supported the match; but ‘She’ managed to swing it anyway. King George gifts his daughter a video camera, and is seen on the balcony with his family. It may be for the last time; as King George is clearly ill.
We then cut through a slideshow of memories of Elizabeth and Philip’s happy marriage. They have two children together, both Charles and Anne, and are shown to be a happy family. Upon a celebration, Elizabeth and her family are called home to Buckingham Palace, where King George is undergoing an operation as his health has declined.
Churchill is again Prime Minister, upon visiting the King he knows that George has cancer, and upon speaking with his wife confesses that he doesn’t seem to know it. Churchill is concerned not only for his friend, but to support Elizabeth on her rise to inevitable power. Despite his age, he continues on under the call of his people’s need for his service.
We are also introduced to Margaret, who seems to have a fondness- possibly an affair- with Peter, her fathers’ butler. Elizabeth tells Margaret she had seen the look on her face when Margaret had spoken of Peter joining them on holiday for Christmas.
King George summons Dr. Weir, demanding an explanation as to why he continues to cough despite the doctors removing his right lung. Dr. Weir explains that the blockages where cancerous, and that he has significant blockages on the other lung as well. It is then that King George realizes he has cancer, and must make arrangements.
The Royal Family goes away on holiday, and are greeted by common folk at the train station and as they drive by. The Philip watches the King, suspicious of his health. Later that night the common folk come to sing carols for the Royal Family, and gift the King with a paper crown. He gets up and sings with them, moved to tears.
We cut to a scene of Elizabeth playing in the courtyard with her children when Peter asks her to come to the King immediately; who is doing file work. He tells her he wants to spend time with her, and they discuss the files and their merit. He begins to gently ease her into the idea of becoming queen one day herself and the work it entails. He then asks if she will do the commonwealth tour for him as his health is not sufficient, to which she will need to discuss with Philip.
Philip is unhappy, wanting to return as a Naval Officer. He worries about his career, and the children while they are gone for months. Elizabeth stresses how much it would mean to her and her father. Eventually Philip relents, and agrees to go.
The King decides to take Philip duck hunting, his cough worsening by the day, and imparts to Phillip that his job is no longer as a Naval Officer- it is to protect Elizabeth and love her. King George tries to impart the severity of the mission, and Philip assures he understands.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth sits behind her fathers’ desk, looking small and unsure in a position she will soon need to fill, foreshadowing her ascent to the throne.
Will she be ready for it? Is she too young? Too naive? We hope to find out more on Episode two; Hyde Park Corner.