Despite the best efforts of Disney, I think we can all agree that the love stories of real-life princesses aren’t always the fairytale that they’re imagined to be. From Princess Grace to Diana and Charlene, none of them have had the best luck in husbands, despite the rich luxury that comes with the marriage. Princess Margaret in The Crown is no exception, and as her older sister points out, she’s far too invested in her luxurious life to leave it and avoid the risk that comes with decadence.
Episode seven starts off with some unwelcome news, as the blissfully happy Peter Townsend kindly, as agreed smugly, and unnecessarily, writes to Margaret to tell her he’s engaged. To a nineteen-year-old, no less (ick). Margaret responds as any ex-girlfriend would react upon hearing this terrible news – by running to her boyfriend and proposing marriage, therefore beating Townsend and his child bride to the public engagement announcement. Unfortunately, photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones isn’t quite so sure. Unbeknownst to Margaret, he’s enjoying multiple dalliances with dancer, secretaries and married couples. Marriage seems a little permanent.
That is, until we discover that he’s already got a permanent fixture in the shape of a disapproving and snobbish mother. The Crown implies that his motive for marrying Margaret is born out of a desire to impress his mother (second ick) and there’s a glorious shot as mother and son drive up to the extravagant wedding, in which he realises that this entire celebration hasn’t impressed his mum any more than that macaroni art he made at Eton College that year.
This portrayal of Princess Margaret by Vanessa Kirby is both vulnerable and consistently rude to those who work for her. Nevertheless, it’s easy to understand her frustration when yet another protocol stops her from announcing her engagement. Her rush is foolish, but after all she’s been through, you can see her motives. However, while Elizabeth’s pregnancy is obviously an accidental clash, the vague reasons for the delay suggest that this ‘protocol issue’ may be something that the Queen has set herself.
Like any good sister, Elizabeth can quite easily identify this marriage to Tony as being something of a reactionary rebound, instead of something made through plenty of consideration. The possibility that she might have meddled in this case is doubtless going to divide viewer opinions – and it might be influenced as to whether you yourself have a sister (us older siblings do tend to meddle).
Her final conversation with Margaret before the wedding sees another choice, but this time she settles on keeping her sister in happy ignorance of Tony’s dalliances than being the fun-sponge of the palace again. If I were an agony aunt at that point, I would’ve suggested that she get the straight-talking Philip to just drop the bomb on her sister, but even then it would probably come back to bite her. I think the choice that Elizabeth makes will definitely come back into play, sooner rather than later. Still, for now, Margaret can enjoy being a glamorous icon for a rebellious generation. Also, in real life, she did get some great photos out of the marriage.
Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage continues to improve, although the ever-reliable Philip has found something to complain about in the new family developments. It’s a navel-gazing complaint, as he sees the warm welcome to ‘commoner’ Tony (read: posh person without a title, to the rest of us) as completely unfair when he himself came under so much scrutiny. His bitterness doesn’t seem to go away, and he spends the rest of the episode being absent during Elizabeth’s revived motherhood before looking glumly out at the wedding crowds. Still, he’s very sweet to Margaret in person, despite his complaining behind the scenes.
The Crown continues its episodic structure in a far more regimented style than season one. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, making each episode uniquely memorable. The pacing remains as slow as ever, which means that each episode subject becomes a careful character study with the aid of the consistently brilliant screenplay. For those who love this style of drama, I imagine you’re enjoying it just as much as I am. It’s certainly matching up to its first season so far.