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Film / A Royal Night Out

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P1 and P2 ready to go.
"My sister has gone to Chelsea with a carload of tarts."
Princess Elizabeth
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A Royal Night Out is a 2015 British comedy film, Very Loosely Based on a True Story. It revolves around Queen Elizabeth II back when she was still Princess Elizabeth. On the 8th May 1945, peace is declared in Europe and glorious celebrations are held. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are expected to appear in public with their parents, waving to the crowd from Buckingham Palace. But the two girls beg to be allowed to go out and celebrate with everyone else. The king and queen relent by allowing them to go to a party at the Chelsea Barracks, with two military escorts. Hilarity Ensues when the princesses decide to ditch and head out into the night.

Stars Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth, Bel Powley as Margaret, Rupert Everett as King George VI and Emily Watson as Queen Elizabeth.

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Jolly good tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Roger Allam plays a spiv who is a big fan of the royal family. In The Queen he played an assistant to Queen Elizabeth.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In her youth Margaret had light brown/auburn hair and Elizabeth was black haired. In the film it's the other way around.
  • Age Lift: Margaret was 14 in 1945 and Bel Powley was 22 when the movie was filmed. Presumably this was done to avoid going into Dude, Not Funny! territory at a 14-year-old getting her drink spiked or ending up in a brothel. Likewise Elizabeth was 19 and Sarah Gadon was 27 during filming.
  • Artistic Licence – History: The girls did go out, but they were both younger than the film seems to depict. They also went out with about sixteen other people - including friends their own age and their nanny. They actually did get back to Buckingham Palace at the 1 am curfew. Of course at the end, the King tells Elizabeth to say she spent the entire night at The Ritz - which is what happened in real life.
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  • Bathos: After Jack finds out who Elizabeth is, he's annoyed that she lied to him and the scene is quite serious. But the drama is lessened by Elizabeth having to move her sister around in a wheelbarrow or being followed by the two dishevelled military men.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Male example. Jeffers, the first guy Margaret picks up clearly has ulterior motives, taking her to a brothel in Soho and slipping something in her drink.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's implied that Elizabeth wishes she didn't have to become Queen and get all the responsibilities, and she'll likely never see Jack again. But she and her sister got to have a night of fun and she may have helped Jack get over his PTSD slightly.
  • Book-Ends: The movie opens on a close-up of Princess Elizabeth in gray and somber colors - stoic, almost uncertain - staring out at the crowd gathering in front of the palace to celebrate the end of the war. The movie ends on a close-up of Lizzie laughing on a bright morning and driving off after Jack had kissed her, hurrying back to a more colorful world that will be her future.
  • Brick Joke: Pryce's hat is seen being taken while the soldiers are drowning their sorrows. A few minutes later Elizabeth reprimands him for not having it.
  • Britain Is Only London: Justified since the princesses live in London. Although it shows just how big London actually is when Elizabeth isn't able to recognise Trafalgar Square or know anything about Soho.
  • Broken Bird: Jack thanks to his friend dying in his arms in the war. His mother laments that he and the rest of the boys were so optimistic signing up.
  • Broken Heel: Elizabeth gets one early on. Jack manages to nail it back on.
  • Call-Back: Jack says that the future belongs to "your lot" when surveying the destruction in London. In the final scene, Elizabeth says "I don't think the future belongs just to my lot. And I don't think you do either" - prompting a smile and nod from Jack.
  • Casting Gag: Bel Powley once starred in MI High as someone who had to impersonate Queen Elizabeth II. Here she plays Princess Margaret.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The party at Chelsea Barracks - which is where Pryce and Burridge were dispatched from.
  • The Comically Serious: Capt Pryce and Lt Burridge, who have to snap to attention when Margaret mentions going to a "knocking shop".
  • Dance of Romance: Subverted hilariously since Jack can't dance.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: One of Jack's friends in the war.
  • Double Entendre: "My feet have hardly touched the floor all night" - Margaret's talking about dancing, the prostitutes think she means something else...
  • Dramatic Irony: Elizabeth is hurriedly looking around Trafalgar Square for Margaret, not knowing she's right behind her in the fountain.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Elizabeth at the end, since she's trying to get Jack from London to his unit within half an hour.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Believing they'll be shot for losing the princesses, Pryce and Burridge decide to have one last drink before confessing to their CO.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Jack barely qualifies as a bad boy, aside from his frequent fights, but the reason he's AWOL is because he wanted to see his mother on VE night.
    • In a way, the brothel owner (and black marketeer) Margaret meets in a backroom happens to be a fan of the Royal family, and he immediately recognizes the princess and proceeds to protect her from the lout who spiked her drink.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The film starts in the afternoon of VE Day and takes place over the course of one night, finishing at around eight in the morning.
  • The Fool: Margaret drunkenly blunders through the night and ends up in the one knocking shop in town that's owned by a fanboy of the Royal Family - and he takes her to the party she wanted, where she's reunited with her sister.
  • Gentlemen Rankers: Any high ranking soldiers seen speak with I Am Very British accents, and Jack only has to imitate this voice to make Pryce and Burridge believe he's incognito.
  • Good Bad Girl: Margaret is portrayed as such, rebellious and reckless but ultimately good-natured. Jack is also a male example, fitting some stereotypical bad boy traits - rough talking, getting into fights - but still a good guy deep down.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Margaret definitely. She downs an entire glass of champagne within moments of arriving at the first party. Some of her drunken behaviour is a little more excusable since she was later unknowingly slipped a mickey.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Margaret shares a taxi with a group of them.
  • I Am Very British: Fully justified with Elizabeth and Margaret, since they're members of the Royal Family. And we do get to hear a variety of other English accents, despite never leaving West London. Jack fakes this voice when he pretends to be an incognito officer.
    Jack: Family well-off by any chance?
    Elizabeth: We manage.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Elizabeth says this is her entire motivation for the night out. She wanted one evening where she wasn't treated like royalty.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Margaret drops a few of them, particularly when talking to the car of prostitutes. She's talking about dancing, when they think she's talking about...you know.
    Prostitute: How's it gone for you, ducks?
    Margaret: My feet have hardly touched the floor. First there was the man at Trafalgar Square. We went all the way to the Curzon.
    Prostitute: Blimey. He had his money's worth.
  • King Incognito: Princesses incognito, though one of the reasons they're allowed out is so they can report back on the public's reactions to the King's speech.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Jack, who spends a lot of the night complaining about getting sucked into Elizabeth's quest to rescue Margaret. But he still pays for her bus ride, and her drinks, and helps her out of scrapes, and getting into the brothel, and... you get the point.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The below trope, as a little nod to the Artistic Licence – History.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The King says as much by the end of the film.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Jack is a borderline example. He enjoys getting into barfights and is a bit gruff, but he's ultimately a good person who just appears to have been slightly broken by the war.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Elizabeth gets all excited about imagining fleeing to Paris as well and not having any responsibilities. Jack then says "come on, Lizzie. You know that's not going to happen."
    • Once at Chelsea Barracks Elizabeth and Margaret finally get to have some fun dancing. But then the Barracks guards tackle Jack, who's not allowed to be there, forcing Elizabeth to pull rank as "Princess" to save him. The entire room goes silent as Elizabeth is forced to round up her escorts as well as Mags and Jack and leave the party, and as she leaves everyone else either salutes or bows. The look on her face lets the audience know she's well aware that for her the party's over.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Enforced in-universe. As Margaret puts it, "it's Lizzie and Mags for tonight."
    • And when Margaret bonds with a spiv, she refers to herself as "P-2" (Princess Number Two), as does he.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Lampshaded as Margaret is preparing to go out. Someone suggests she not bring her tiara if she's supposed to be incognito.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Elizabeth to the guard who witnesses her dropping off Jack.
    "Not a bloody word."
  • Pretty in Mink: Margaret has a fur wrap on her when she goes out.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: It's no coincidence that the two wear pink dresses when they go out.
  • Rebellious Princess: Margaret is a tame example. Her rebellion amounts to just wanting to have a little drunken fun for one evening.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Margaret is red, Elizabeth is blue.
  • Rule of Funny: The movie is running on it.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Jack isn't allowed into the Chelsea Barracks party and sneaks in through the bathroom. Just when he's about to be thrown out, Elizabeth reveals she is the princess. She also refuses to go home when the guards say (knowing they can't disobey a direct order from her) and is able to make sure Jack avoids any backlash from being AWOL by saying she had him out on important business (as she's a registered officer herself).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Jack is intending to do this, fleeing to either France or Canada. Thanks to Elizabeth, he doesn't have to.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Part of the reason Jack wants to run away. His mother sums it up.
    "Those boys went off to fight with such idealism. Where did it all go, I wonder?"
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Elizabeth is rational while Margaret is impulsive.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Both princesses, though Elizabeth of course gets to show this more. Margaret may be a little silly but she rebuffs her date as soon as he gets a little rough with her.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Jack's a bit of jerk who gets on Elizabeth's bad side when he disses the King's Victory Speech. She enjoys it when the patriotic pub members toss Jack out for his rudeness. But she still needs his help in finding Margaret, which annoys him because he's trying to enjoy the moment. The kiss obviously happens at movie's end.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Deconstructed. The conflict between Elizabeth and Jack is there initially but it's illustrated that both classes have their own share of difficulties. Notably the narrative doesn't take a side for either POV.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Played straight as many Londoners Liz and Mags bump into during their night out are patriotic and, well, British.
  • Those Two Guys: Captain Pryce and Lt Burridge, the princesses' chaperones for the night.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Jack gets into fights, has a problem with authority and is eternally snarking at someone. But he loves his mother, helps Elizabeth out and is mainly hurting from the trauma of the war.
  • True Blue Femininity: The Queen Mother wears a fancy blue suit throughout the film.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Some of the people at the Chelsea Barracks party. Averted for the two princesses.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Jack seems to think so when Elizabeth's identity is revealed.
    "You made a first class prat out of me."
  • When She Smiles: Jack spends most of the movie either scowling or smirking. He lets loose with an Adorkable grin when he dances with Elizabeth at Chelsea Barracks, and smiles much more towards the end.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: The story is that the future Queen Elizabeth was really just like any other 19-year-old girl wanting a night of fun.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: A prostitute who knows where Margaret went has passed out. Jack goes to slap her awake but is reluctant. So Elizabeth does it instead.
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