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"Two houses, two courts, one Crown."

"Elizabeth Mountbatten has now been replaced by another person, Elizabeth Regina. The two Elizabeths will frequently be in conflict with one another. The Crown must win, must always win."
Queen Mary
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The Crown is an award-winning Netflix original series which premiered on 4 November 2016. It follows the life of Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) and that of her family, ministers, and governments, from her wedding in 1947 to the present day.

King George VI's untimely death from cancer in 1952 pushes Elizabeth onto the throne far sooner than she had expected, only a few years after she married against the advice of her family. Her burgeoning family life is thrown into disarray by the obligations of her position as she struggles to embody the authority and dignity of the throne. This is complicated by her husband's dissatisfaction with his role and the public misbehavior of other Windsors. On top of all this, she must learn how far she can and cannot go in her role as monarch, especially when it comes to dealing with elder statesmen like Winston Churchill and foreign leaders who underestimate the young queen.

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The second series premiered on 8 December 2017, and covers the years 1956-1963. A third series, already announced, will star Olivia Colman as a middle-aged Elizabeth.

The series is written in large part by Peter Morgan, who wrote The Queen about the older Elizabeth, and The Audience about her entire reign.


Tropes:

  • Abdicate the Throne: That's what Edward VIII did to marry his twice-divorced lover, and the memory of the crisis still haunts the House of Windsor.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Subverted. Lascelles and the Queen Mum try to invoke this with Margaret and Peter, but they're still as in love with each other as ever at the end of their two-year separation, forcing Elizabeth to deploy the nuclear option.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Queen Mary smirks at some of the Duke of Windsor's bitchy remarks about the Queen Mother and Prince Philip, while verbally chastising him.
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  • Adaptational Personality Change: Philip is portrayed as much more contentious and modern to the point of selfishness and controversy, frequently voicing complaints about how tradition should be changed, much to Elizabeth's chagrin, notably his expectation to kneel. The real Philip's own royal house borrowed much from British tradition, and he was not only fully aware of what was expected to him, he was more than prepared to go along with it without a fuss.
  • Advice Backfire: The most notable example is probably the effort to separate Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend. Elizabeth's advisors believe allowing them to marry would inflict damage upon the monarchy on the level of Edward VIII's abdication; in fact, the press and the public, who have by then adopted more modern attitudes, criticize the Royal Family for not allowing the marriage to take place.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Elizabeth's one real "passion," as Margaret points out, is for her horses. Margaret and the Queen Mother are also accomplished riders.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "Assassins", Elizabeth delivers this to Philip at the end.
    I have nothing to hide from you. Nothing. Porchey is a friend. And yes, there were those who would have preferred me to marry him. Indeed, marriage with him might have been easier. Might have even worked better than ours. But to everyone's regret and frustration...the only person I have ever loved was you. And can you honestly look me in the eye and say the same? Can you? [walks away]
  • Artistic License – History: Although the series is overall well-researched, some major historical errors persist:
    • Philip's naturalization as a British subject is shown being concurrent with his creation as Duke of Edinburgh the day before his marriage to Elizabeth. His naturalization actually took place in March earlier that year, in part so that the public would get used to seeing him as British Naval Officer, rather than a foreign prince.
    • Charles and Anne are shown attending a party at their parent's home in Malta celebrating Philip's promotion, when in fact they remained with their Grandparents in Britain, while Elizabeth and Philip were in Malta.
    • Preparing for a state dinner in 1953 with President Eisenhower, Elizabeth is told that he is worried about the "military-industrial complex." Eisenhower didn't use the phrase until his 1961 farewell speech.
    • Prince Philip wears a medal commemorating Elizabeth's 1953 coronation while touring Africa in 1952.
    • At Elizabeth's 1947 wedding, Philip's mother appears as an old woman in a nun's habit. She was in fact middle-aged and didn't join a convent until 1949.
    • As this BBC article revealed, unlike the portrayals in the series, the Queen and the cabinet under Sir Anthony Eden (Churchill's successor in 1955) did not object to Princess Margaret marrying Peter Townsend; their only stipulation was that Margaret renounce her place in the royal succession (so she would not become Queen in the very unlikely scenario of Elizabeth and all of her children dying), but she still would have kept the Princess title and all of her royal possessions and duties. It was Margaret who decided that she didn't want to marry him after all.
    • Elizabeth accuses Winston Churchill of delaying her coronation by a year for political gain. In fact, it is customary for the coronation to take place more than a year after the accession to observe the mourning period for the late monarch. George VI had only five months from his accession to his coronation because it was originally planned for Edward VIII, who abdicated less than a year into his reign; the planned coronation simply went ahead with a new monarch.
    • Philip is shown being resentful of having to kneel before Elizabeth at her coronation. While it is true that he resented not having any official role in the early years of his wife's reign, he was, and always has been, fully respectful of the crown and what it represents and willingly took part in the ceremony with no fuss.
    • Churchill changes his mind about the Great Smog after his young secretary Venetia Scott dies because of it. Venetia was invented for the show.
    • Churchill is shown resigning shortly after Sutherland's portrait is unveiled. In reality, over four months passed between the two events.
    • Churchill is depicted as openly holding his political rival Clement Attlee in contempt, even reciting the apocryphal quote "An empty taxi arrived and out stepped Atlee," when in fact the two men were friendly rivals who had forged a close relationship in Churchill's War Cabinet.
    • Charles is shown to be overly sensitive and miserable in every school he goes to. While he reportedly hated Gordonstoun with a passion and did not subject his sons to the same experience, he was actually quite happy attending primary school with other children his age and willingly took part in many physical activities. Furthermore, in the 1970s he stated that he was glad that he attended to Gordonstoun, and the toughness there was "all much exaggerated by report".
    • Lord Altrincham never had a private meeting with Elizabeth herself, with Martin Charteris being the closest he got. The show acknowledges this by Elizabeth insisting the meeting will forever remain secret from the public and they'll deny it if Altrincham tries to publicize it.
    • In a flashback to the Second World War, Caucasian and African-American soldiers are portrayed as serving alongside each other. In reality, the US Army wasn't integrated until 1948, three years after the war ended.
  • Appeal to Tradition: The main conflict between senior courtiers and members of the Royal Family (Queen Mary, The Queen Mother, Tommy Lascelles, etc.) who wish to maintain the traditions of the monarchy, and the younger generation (Prince Philip and Princess Margaret) who wish to modernize and liven it up with an Appeal to Novelty, with the young but eminently sensible and responsible Queen caught in the middle.
  • As You Know: The script uses this a few times to aid the audience, as when Martin Charteris reminds Elizabeth about how regnal names work, to the point of reminding her what her father and uncle's names were.
    • Subverted and lampshaded in a later episode — Michael Adeane gives Tommy Lascelles an "as you know" briefing of the interpersonal relationships of half the staff's spouses. Tommy's response? "Why on earth would I know that?"
  • At the Opera Tonight: In episode 5, Elizabeth and Phillip attend a ballet, but the real focus is on them discussing the coronation.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • Played with, the Coronation is the central event of the fifth episode, but more importance is given to the anointing with holy oil as the climax of the entire service.
    • Phillip's crowning after Elizabeth consents to raise him to a Prince is far less extravagant, but he takes quite a bit of pleasure in its happening in front of all the Parliament members who'd been looking down on him.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: In Series 2, Elizabeth announces that she wants to have more children. Philip notes that this is for two reasons. One, is because she wants to move on from the recent troubles in their marriage and considers this to be a way to symbolize a new start. Two, she's become much colder and distant towards Charles (since he's her heir and a constant reminder of her mortality) and she wants a child who can simply be hers to love without the additional pressure of having to maintain the monarchy.
  • Berserk Button:
    • A rather understated and stoic one, as befitting the person. However, in "Vergangenheit", when Elizabeth refuses the Duke of Windsor's request for official royal jobs and to return to Britain, he launches into a self-pitying rant in which he decries the "inhumanity" of her and her family's treatment of him. Unfortunately, Elizabeth has recently been presented with evidence of the Duke's palling around with Nazis, which extended to borderline treasonous dealings with them while his former subjects were being bombed in the Blitz. Clearly this was a very bad choice of words, as she proceeds to let him have it with both barrels.
    • A less understated and stoic one from Elizabeth occurs earlier, however, when Philip — chafing at Elizabeth's determination to see through a major royal tour — accuses her of only doing so to try and compensate for her inferiority over not being her late father's favourite daughter, and cruelly mimics King George's stammer while doing so. He gets a drinking glass and a tennis racquet thrown at his head for his troubles.
  • Big Fancy House: Buckingham Palace is too big and fancy to actually be very comfortable. Elizabeth's family tries to resist living there in favor of the smaller and more modest Clarence House, but they are eventually forced to live there.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: David, Duke of Windsor (the unfortunate Edward VIII), who while he acts courteous and properly affectionate to his family and the public, is revealed, through his letters to his wife, Wallis Simpson, to despise his family and country for the circumstances of the abdication. In fact, they are overjoyed that public opinion turns against the Royal Family during Margaret's affair with Peter Townsend. Of course, almost everyone in the Royal Family and Government can see through his façade, leaving only the public completely fooled.
    • Subverted with Jacqueline Kennedy, where after charming nearly the entirety of The House of Winsdor, including Elizabeth herself, the Queen is taken aback after learning some of the nasty things the First Lady had said about her at a public dinner. As Jackie explains, however, when apologizing to Elizabeth, that she had been drugged by her husband's secretary, loosening her tongue, and not once does she ever condone or try to rationalize her inappropriate behavior.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first series ends with Elizabeth's reign coming into the promise of Churchill's "new Elizabethan age", but also with a noticeable rift in Elizabeth and Philip's marriage, Princess Margaret being heartbroken by the resolution of the Townsend affair, Churchill realizing that his age is catching up to him and resigning, and a deteriorating situation in Egypt, foreshadowing the Suez Crisis which occurs in the premiere of the second series.
  • Blatant Lies: After Billy Wallace is challenged to a duel by Colin Tennant, he calmly tells Margaret that he met the challenge as a man does; actual flashbacks to the event show him as a sniveling and sobbing coward who had to be dragged against his will to the duel.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The first sign of George's cancer is when he begins coughing blood into the toilet ahead of Philip's investiture as Duke of Edinburgh.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Charles experiences Gordonstoun as this, later calling it "hell." And it certainly is tough, subjecting its students to a regimen of hard physical activity, cold showers and menial labor, not to mention the student bullying that usually happens in such schools. However, its headmaster is also a Reasonable Authority Figure who explains that he's trying to raise men strong enough to confront modern evils (and as a Jew who escaped Nazi Germany, he should know), and he eventually wins over Philip, leading the latter to send his children there.
  • Book Dumb: Elizabeth laments that she never received a proper education and can't really hold a conversation about current events and scientific developments. Others are quick to point out that her knowledge of the British Constitution is second-to-none, due to having received exclusive in-depth lessons as a child, and that not even her most experienced ministers would dare to take her on in a battle on the minutiae of constitutional matters.
  • Break the Haughty: Prince Phillip gets this big time when he attends a new school, his classmates and teachers making it clear he won't get special treatment and pushed to hard places to be stronger.
  • Brutal Honesty: The crux of the tension between Churchill and Grahame Sutherland, his portraitist, in "Assassins". Churchill wants a portrait that will reflect his mythic self-identity as a titan of British politics. Sutherland, however, values honesty, and instead depicts Churchill as he is — a weak, increasingly frail elderly man.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Kenyan king who greeted the royal couple at the airstrip returns after the news of George VI's death and locks eyes with Elizabeth, now queen, as she departs for England.
    • In the fourth episode, Elizabeth takes her box of paperwork and flips it upside-down once Tommy leaves the room, just as her father had suggested in the first — they put everything they don't want the monarch to know about on the bottom.
    • During the montage near the end of "Mrs. Kennedy", while the audience is informed and updated on the unfolding events of President Kennedy's assassination, the music from "Hyde Park Corner" during the sequence after George VI dies is playing.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Not to her father, but to her abdicated Uncle David. Elizabeth demands an apology for making her the heiress presumptive, robbing her of a normal life, and gets one.
    • She also takes her mother to task for inadequately educating her to talk to statesmen even though they knew early on that she'd become Queen.
  • Camera Abuse: Elizabeth scatters a symbolic handful of earth onto her father's coffin, covering the camera lens.
  • Camp Gay:
    • The famous designer Norman Hartnell who designed most of the outfits worn by the Queen on her Commonwealth Tour. Historically, the Queen Mother was also one of his frequent and favourite clients. The portrayal of Hartnell as camp is quite accurate, as is the studious blind eye everyone turned towards it.
    • The photographer Cecil Beaton, who took the Royal Family's portrait photographs. The portrayal of his campness is slightly less accurate (he was not quite that flaming, and he may have been at least bisexual), but overall a fair portrait considering his role in the series as a fusty, overly-fawning mirror to the dark, modernist (and straight-leaning bisexual) wild man Antony Armstrong-Jones.
  • Cassandra Truth: Martin Charteris gets brushed off when he frets that the Queen's speech at the Jaguar factory might draw criticism from the press. He turns out to be right.
  • The Chains of Commanding: A major theme of the series, not only through Elizabeth learning to take on the responsibilities of the Crown even at the increasing cost of her personal happiness, but it also looks at the struggles of her Prime Ministers, beginning with Sirs Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden. Episode Eight has an poignant moment when she and Prince Philip return home after a months-long journey abroad, and once they return home, Prince Philip goes absolutely nuts running around with their children with their corgies yapping at their heels, while The Queen gives them a longing look and then exits stage left to a meeting with Prime Minister Churchill.
  • Chest of Medals:
    • Philip has an impressive collection of medals, including, it should be noted, a number of campaign medals earned the hard way, and goes around showing off to a group of African chiefs while on a goodwill visit. He's taken aback that an African chief has earned a Victoria Cross.
    • When Anthony Eden travels to Egypt, President Nasser meets him in uniform. Eden compliments him on his decorations, but Nasser seems to take this as a Stealth Insult, as he's fully aware of Eden's much more distinguished military record.
  • Cold Open: Each episode opens on a moment in Elizabeth's life before her coronation that will somehow then relate to the events facing the Queen in the episode's main storyline.
  • Compassionate Critic: Lord Altrincham. He publishes some scathing articles about Elizabeth after her Innocently Insensitive and classist speech, he explains in an interview he doesn't hate her or the monarchy. He is a passionate monarchist and wants to see the monarchy thrive.
  • Cool Crown:
    • Tiaras and crowns are seen in many important events, most of which are based on real life regalia.
    • The opening credits show a piece of gold ore's gradual transformation into the Imperial State Crown.
    • There is also St Edward's Crown, which is used for the official crowning of the monarch. It's stated to weigh 5 lbs, much heavier than the Imperial State Crown's 2.3 lbs, and Elizabeth practices walking with it so it won't fall off her head and to get used to the weight of it. It should be noted that the crown itself is shown to be Awesome, yet Impractical. It's disproportionately large compared to the wearer's head, and quite unbalanced (it visibly wobbled when George moved his head with it on).note 
    • A Kenyan chieftain also has a pretty cool one, but since it doesn't look like a European crown, Philip mistakenly says, "Nice Hat."
  • Costume Porn: The show is filled with gorgeous period clothing, highly detailed military uniforms, and practically dripping with jewels and other royal paraphernalia. The costumers went to great lengths to make sure that Elizabeth's wardrobe was as accurate as possible, even acquiring replicas intended for museum exhibits (such as Elizabeth's wedding dress and Commonwealth Tour wardrobe) that, luckily, fit Claire Foy almost perfectly.
  • Country Matters: King George drops the C-word in a bawdy limerick, providing a large portion of the reason for the first series's TV-MA rating.
  • Cue the Sun: The smog finally lifts just as Elizabeth is sitting down to take Churchill to task for his mishandling of the crisis. She is forced to quickly change gears, but does so in such a way that still gives her an advantage over him.
  • Cunning Linguist: Anthony Eden is fluent in Arabic (though he has a very thick accent), which worries Nasser.
  • The Cycle of Empires: In the political realm, the series focuses on Post-War Britain, the Decline of the British Empire, and the ascendancy of America and the USSR.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tommy Lascelles is a master of the art, as is the Queen Mary.
  • Death Glare: Colin Tennant gives an intense one to Billy Wallace upon finding him flirting with a few girls at a party, as the latter was supposed to be engaged to Princess Margaret at the time, Tennant's close friend.
  • Deconstruction: As a Hot Consort, Phillip has no other duties other than look presentable next to his wife and is not allowed to contribute anything to her reign that he can call his own, even after being forced to give up his career, his home and his name. This leaves him feeling inferior to his wife and bored out of his mind, spending his time frequently partying and getting drunk with friends.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The show has been greatly praised for its willingness to show even its more-sympathetic characters engaging in the less-enlightened ideas of the time. Especially cringe-inducing is Elizabeth singing the praises of British colonialism during her trip to Kenya.
  • Descent into Addiction: By the end of the first series, Anthony Eden has become dependent on powerful painkillers as a result of his botched surgery, which is Truth in Television. In the last episode of series one, we last see him passed out alone in a conference room after injecting himself.
  • Dirty Coward: When he's challenged to a duel after being discovered cheating on Margaret, Billy Wallace has to be dragged there struggling and crying pathetically. This is in stark contrast to the cocky, smug gloating he does when recounting the episode later, but his true attitude subtly makes itself known when Margaret — to whom he is recounting the story, and who is understandably less-than-impressed — storms towards him and he visibly flinches back.
  • Disappointed in You: On the advice of her tutor, Elizabeth strikes this tone with Winston Churchill and Lord Salisbury for hiding the former's strokes from her — any Englishman of a certain social class is highly susceptible to a telling-off from Nanny.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: George's illness is described as "structural alterations" in his lungs. Churchill gives this medical report to a doctor friend for translation — cancer.
  • Divine Right of Kings: Discussed. Elizabeth asks Queen Mary if she really does believe in it and is told yes. Appointment by God confers a sense of legitimacy and security onto the throne and thus the country.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Philip reacts very negatively if he feels that Elizabeth is granting him favours out of pity for his subordinate position.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: As Philip grows more unhappy in his marriage, he takes to going out and getting plastered with his buddies.
  • Due to the Dead: Discussed by Philip, who disapproves of the hidebound traditionalism of Queen Mary's funeral as he plots to modernize Elizabeth's coronation.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Churchill accuses his wife of doing this to his portrait painter, Graham Sutherland. She doesn't deny it.
  • Empathic Environment: The weather for Margaret and Tony's wedding in the show (while pleasant sunny in real life) is moody and rainy, with gray skies overhead, signalling turbulence and lots of tears in the future and reflecting Philip and Elizabeth's tense sense of foreboding during the event.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens in Season Two. Philip and the Queen Mother can't stand one another and he can't stand Tommy Lascelles, but they dislike the Duke of Windsor and get-together for a round of drinks to celebrate Elizabeth throwing him out of the country.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Churchill arrives at the Queen's wedding, he stands outside for a moment and times his entrance to the start of "I Vow to Thee, My Country," stealing the scene at a royal wedding.
  • Ethereal Choir: Used in the episode "Act of God" to indicate, well, acts of God.
  • Eureka Moment: a heartbreaking variation in "Assassins", where through his discussions with the artist painting his portrait, Churchill realizes why he keeps painting his pond over and over again: it reminds him of his dead daughter Marigold.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Tommy Lascelles is very against any deviations from tradition, but when the Great Smog hits and Churchill seemingly does nothing, even he implies he wouldn't mind the Queen bending the rules and getting rid of Churchill.
  • Everybody Smokes: In the case of George VI and Queen Mary, this results in an Incurable Cough of Death. Elizabeth and the Queen Mother stand out because they don't smoke. Elizabeth also gets Philip to stop smoking, due to what it did to her father, and he does so out of love, but it causes no small amount of stress in their marriage later on.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The Duke of Windsor plays bagpipes when he's homesick. Appropriately, he does it outdoors, wearing a kilt.
  • Fanservice: The audience gets a good long look at naked Matt Smith when King George rouses Philip from bed to go duck hunting.
  • Fisher King: Not Elizabeth, but rather her Prime Ministers — both Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden experienced severe health problems while in office, which the series purposefully juxtaposes with the decline of the British Empire after World War II. The point is also rather subtly made that the entire Conservative Party leadership of the time seems to be a bunch of rather frail, tired and increasingly sickly old men.
  • Flash Back Echo: As Elizabeth ascends to the throne, she recalls the abdication of her uncle and enthronement of her father which took place in her childhood.
  • Fog of Doom: Episode 4 covers the Great Smog, a horrific cloud of exhaust and coal smoke which lasted for five days and led to the deaths of over twelve thousand people. Visibility was only about three feet at times.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Margaret is the foolish one to Elizabeth's responsibility, but her father's death and forced separation from her love, on top of having to stifle her lively personality for publicity's sake, is what drives Margaret's acting out. It's also implied that the trope is played up more than it actually exists because the press wants the cliché of the good queen and her wicked sister.
    • Among the older generation, Edward VIII is the foolish sibling, throwing the nation into a constitutional crisis over his love life, while George VI is the responsible sibling, stoically taking the crown even though he really doesn't want to.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Margaret won't marry Peter Townsend. Elizabeth won't remove Churchill during the Great Smog. Things like Elizabeth's desire to raise her children in her private house and her wish to keep Martin as secretary are also pre-determined if you're familiar enough with Windsor trivia.
  • Friend to All Children: Prince Philip, who is shown to be a doting father to both of his children, if a little disappointed in Charles's disposition, and at Sagana plays with two of the boys who live at the lodge. He later laments at having to spend an extended time away from his children due to his royal duties having to take precedence. In real life, Philip was known for arranging his schedule around that of his children so that he would, at the very least, be able to see them to bed.
  • Gilligan Cut: In Series 2, Philip wakes up with a crick in his neck and orders a palace employee to crack it. The servant insists that it needs a professional, so Philip does it himself. Cue the two of them driving to aforementioned professional, with Philip's neck in a brace.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Margaret is envious of the clear role that Elizabeth is given while she's left with nothing but to stand behind her sister, while Elizabeth is herself envious of Margaret's easy way with people, and her freedom from the constraints of the Crown.
  • The Good King: George VI is a kind, responsible man who advises his daughter as much as he can before his death and is beloved by everyone (slightly less his brother).
  • Gorn: Though the context isn't making a spectacle of the gore as much as averting Gory Discretion Shot.
    • The show depicts King George VI's illness and death in very graphic detail. Some highlights include:
      • A closeup of the operation to remove one of his lungs, showing his beating heart and the surgeons cutting away at his lung.
      • Philip walks into the room being used as a makeshift operating theater in time to see King George VI's diseased lung being laid out on a tray.
      • Margaret walking in on his body being embalmed.
    • Season 2 depicts the birth of Prince Andrew, involving the midwife reaching in with medical forceps and pulling the baby out (a common method at the time).
  • Graceful Loser: Churchill has a good laugh with his wife over the way Elizabeth pivoted when the smog cleared, changing a planned admonition into a request for advice on foreign prime ministers, which threw him sufficiently that he agreed not to oppose Philip's flying lessons.
  • Grande Dame: The formidable Queen Mary, the Queen's grandmother, who coaches Elizabeth on her new duties and responsibilities as sovereign, and has a few choice words with her eldest son David on his abdication and wife.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Philip gets jealous when Elizabeth starts spending a lot of time with her old friend Porchey, to the point where it leads to a shouting match.
  • Happily Married:
    • George VI and Queen Elizabeth, which is why she is devastated when he dies at the age of 56. She lived until 2002 and never married again.
    • The Duke of Windsor is happy enough in his marriage to consider it worth abdicating the throne, even if he gets wistful sometimes. At one point he describes his marriage to Wallis as being better than being a god, and on the whole their partnership is extremely affectionate and mutually loving. Truth in Television, as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were a devoted couple, remaining married for over thirty years from 1937 until the Duke's death in 1972 (by far the Duchess's longest-lasting marriage).
    • The Churchills also have a close and affectionate relationship.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Princess Margaret, who holds a wild drinks party in Clarence House, even while her mother lives across the hall.
  • Heaven Above: The episode "Act of God" focuses Queen Elizabeth's lack of clarity on the relationship between the monarchy and God, a theme that is visualized by the Great Smog that blocks out the London sky for the entire episode.
  • Held Gaze: Philip and Elizabeth share a lot of these to indicate their passion (since neither of them is very verbal about it).
  • Hero-Worshipper: Venetia Scott adores Churchill. Given that he is under siege from everyone else, he is deeply moved.
  • Heroes Love Dogs:
    • In later episodes, Elizabeth is often accompanied by her corgis.
    • Churchill frequently appears with one of his dogs.
  • The High Queen: Elizabeth is forced to quickly transition from a newlywed and young mother to the sovereign of a nation still recovering from a devastating war, which needs her to be a dignified and distant figure of admiration.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • Victoria Hamilton is much slimmer and conventionally beautiful in contrast to the real Queen Mother's homeliness (there's a reason why she was derisively called "Cookie").
    • Elizabeth and Philip were nice looking enough, albeit with British Teeth, but here they are played by the very pretty Claire Foy and hunky Matt Smith.
    • Averted with Margaret. While she is played by the strikingly beautiful Vanessa Kirby, the real Princess Margaret was quite renowned for her great beauty as well.
    • Played straight with Camilla Shand (Parker-Bowles), who was famously compared unfavorably to Charles's beloved and beautiful ex-wife Diana Spencer, now to be portrayed by the gorgeous, pouty-lipped and voluptuous Emerald Fennell.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The Queen and the Royal Family of the 1950s are joined by Sirs Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Anthony Eden and other greats of the day.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The family is portrayed as disliking Edward VIII for having abandoned his royal duty for the love of Wallis, a twice-divorced American, and hating Wallis for being the woman he left the crown for. In reality, there was more to it. At best, Edward and Wallis were overly friendly with Hitler and at worst, may have been outright Nazi sympathizers. Hitler's reputed plans for conquering England involved installing Edward and Wallis on the throne as puppet monarchs for the Third Reich. Even more than Edward's dereliction of duty, this is what placed himself and Wallis firmly on the royal family's shitlist for the remainder of their lives.
    • In series two episode six, their fraternization with Nazis is thoroughly explored, and the episode even ends with the actual historical photos of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor with Adolf Hitler.
  • Hollywood Old: There are several TimeSkips during and between seasons, resulting in many characters being much older than their actors. In an attempt to avert this, some characters will be recast every two seasons.
  • Hope Spot:
    • While staying in Kenya at Treetops, Elizabeth tells Philip that after the tour she wants to return to Malta, where she and Philip were happiest, so that he can resume his naval career, and will write to her father asking so. Unfortunately, the King passes away overnight, and everything changes.
    • Another, perhaps crueller, one is in the last episode of series one, when Margaret becomes 25, finally freeing her from having to ask Elizabeth's permission to marry Peter Townsend under the Royal Marriages Act 1772. However, her advisers at the time deliberately failed to mention that even after reaching the age of 25, she will still need the approval of Parliament, who is still violently opposed. Which forces Elizabeth and Margaret into direct conflict.
  • Hot Consort: Prince Philip, who in his youth was once described as looking like a "Viking god". The impressive, muscular physique he sometimes shows off in a few topless scenes brings him into Mr. Fanservice territory, especially considering he's played by Matt Smith.
  • How We Got Here: Series 2 opens with Elizabeth and Phillip having a tense conversation about a vaguely defined scandal, followed by three episodes covering the prior five months.
  • Humiliation Conga: Anthony Eden's Epic Fail at handling the Suez Crisis puts him through a long one that ultimately results in his resigning...and being replaced by one of the people who goaded him into the war.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Queen Mary expresses her disdain for Phillip's lineage ("..a royal family of carpetbaggers and parvenus, that goes back what? Ninety years?"). Mary's own father was a lowly German Duke from a morganatic line (similar to the Mountbattens), who at one point had to flee from London to avoid his creditors, and her own royal in-laws were very reluctant about letting her marry the heir to the throne for the same reason. note 
    • When planning Elizabeth's coronation, Philip insists on several changes that aim to modernize and democratize the ceremony, which he feels is out of touch and out of date. Elizabeth agrees to support some of these changes, on one condition: that Philip kneel when she is crowned. He refuses this, and walks off without saying anything.
    • When Anthony Eden says that his cabinet is opposed to Margaret and Peter's marriage on moral grounds, Elizabeth points out that there are several cabinet members (including Eden himself) who are themselves divorced. He concedes the point, but ultimately it doesn't help because of the Church's opposition. In real life, Eden drew up a plan in 1955 under which Princess Margaret could marry Townsend while keeping her royal title and her civil list allowance note  She could continue to live in the UK and even continue with public duties if the public approved, as was highly likely. However, she would have to renounce her rights of succession and those of her children.
  • Idle Rich:
    • Prince Philip's frustrations with his marriage all stem from being the Queen's consort and not being allowed to contribute anything to the Queen's reign that he can call his own, even after being forced to give up his career, his home and his name.
    • The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are this; just as in real life, they are portrayed as high-flying socialites, throwing numerous and glamorous parties in their Paris home.
  • Idiot Ball: A major plotline in the last two episodes involves Margaret reaching her 25th birthday and both her and Elizabeth assuming she (Margaret) will finally be free to marry divorcee Peter Townsend, until Elizabeth is told of the remainder of the Royal Marriages Act (which says any marriage would be valid, unless Parliament voices disapproval). However, the series had previously taken great pains to establish that while Elizabeth's education in the arts and sciences was lacking at best, her constitutional and legal education was first-rate, as befitting a future monarch. So Elizabeth based a major promise to her sister on the Royal Marriages Act, yet either never bothered or was unable to read and understand the Act itself?
  • I Gave My Word: Margaret's relationship with Peter causes Elizabeth to become caught between conflicting oaths that she gave to her father, to her sister, and to the nation. She can't keep one without breaking another.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Churchill always greets the Queen with this.
  • Important Haircut: Elizabeth getting her iconic hairstyle halfway through Season 2 is given the full Mundane Made Awesome treatment, scored with Handel's "Zadok the Priest" (originally composed for the coronation of King George II and used for every other British coronation since). It's then hilariously undercut when Philip isn't impressed at all.
  • Impoverished Patrician:
    • What David complains he will be if he is not allowed to keep the £10,000 a year income given to him by George VI when he abdicated.
    • Several references are made to the fact that Philip grew up as this, since the Greek royal family into which he was born was overthrown when he was a babynote . This is a major reason why the Windsors initially opposed his marriage to Elizabeth, and why he's concerned about the monarchy staying in touch with the people.
  • In Medias Res: Used a lot in the second series. The first episode has a Cold Open with Elizabeth confronting Phillip in his cabin on the Royal Yacht at the end of his Global Tour, before jumping back five months earlier to just before the start of the Tour. The scene isn't revisited until near the end of the third episode.
    • The 5th episode of that same series opens on Lord Altrincham getting punched in the face while leaving the television studio where he recorded an interview about his article critical of the Queen. Just before the interview airs, the show jumps back to before the article was written.
  • In Vino Veritas: Margaret says that she knows that Porchey still holds a torch for Elizabeth because he said so when he was drunk. Elizabeth doesn't believe it because, as she points out, drinking's "when the nonsense comes out."
  • Incurable Cough of Death: George VI, complete with Blood from the Mouth, as a sign of his progressively worsening lung cancer.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the episode "Paterfamilias" where young Philip hallucinates the plane crash that killed his sister and two young nephews....and her newborn baby. We are treated to a shot of his nephews' corpses amongst the wreckage.
  • I Regret Nothing: David misses his homeland and his throne, but when pressed, says he would do it again for Wallis.
  • Irony: It is noted that at least one point that the modest, retiring and reserved Queen Elizabeth and her vivacious, glamorous and desperate-for-the-spotlight younger sister Princess Margaret would probably have been much happier if they were able to swap public roles.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Philip's handling of the coronation is treated as if he's indulging his own grand designs out of arrogance and boredom. When Elizabeth confronts him, however, he makes a very good point that bringing the people in touch with the British monarchy will help avoid the fate of his own family.
    • Tommy Lascelles goes behind Elizabeth's back to browbeat her favored secretary into refusing the position. When Elizabeth confronts him, he argues that breaking longstanding traditions can corrode the heart of the monarchy, as just Edward VIII's actions nearly toppled it.
    • Elizabeth eventually has to concede that Lord Altrincham's criticisms of the palace and the crown have merit and eventually implements many of the changes he suggests. A postscript notes that doing so allowed the monarchy to survive into the modern age. This one depends on your point of view a bit, since — if you don't happen to be a member of the institution he's rather bluntly criticising — Altrincham generally comes across as a rather pleasant and well-meaning sort.
    • The Duke of Windsor is snide and bitter about the Royal Family and his own abdication, but he's not entirely wrong to feel that the treatment that he and his wife receive from them and the British Establishment can border on the unnecessarily spiteful at times.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: David did cause a great abdication crisis in 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson but he did at least think to send an apology to his brother and sister-in-law. He also gives Elizabeth advice when she is in tough situations and is really in love with Wallis.
  • Just Train Wrong: In the first episode of the series, the Royal Train is pulled by a British Rail Standard Class 9F. Although the 9F was fast enough to be used in some passenger services, it was primarily a heavy freight engine, and the King would be pulled behind something a bit more prestigious. The engine is painted green, rather than the black it would've worn in regular service, and the scene is set in 1951, while the first 9F was built in 1954.
  • King Incognito:
    • Not entirely incognito, but Elizabeth and Philip's time in Malta was when they were at their most blissful because they and everyone around them more or less ignored their royal status and simply enjoyed each other's company.
    • An initially unintentional example. While holidaying in Scotland, the Queen Mother spends time with the owner of a run-down castle she intends to purchase. As she is dressed simply and appropriately for the cold weather, he doesn't recognize her out of context, and she decides not to enlighten him so that their friendship can remain natural.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Which is why Louis Mountbatten is quick to boast that with the Queen's succession, "the House of Mountbatten now rules". When this gets back to Queen Mary, whose husband began the House of Windsor, she acts quickly with Tommy Lascelles, and the Queen Mother, to pressure the Queen to officially keep the name of the Royal Family as Windsor. Unfortunately, this is also one of the reasons that Philip and Elizabeth's marriage becomes tense. (The irony is that Philip and his uncle aren't playing this trope completely straight either, since the name Mountbatten comes from Philip's mother's side of the family. As Winston Churchill points out, his paternal name is the unwieldy Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Even if one were to accept "Mountbatten" as Philip's last name, the name "Mountbatten" was fairly recent itself; until anti-German sentiment in WWI forced a change, the family's name was "Battenberg," "Berg" being a German word for "Mountain.") To be fair, Louis Mountbatten had legitimate reason to think his last name would become the House name: when Victoria of the House of Hanover became Queen in the 1800s, her House and family name became "Saxe-Coburg and Gotha," which was her husband Albert's House name (the anti-German sentiment mentioned above caused George V to change the House name to "Windsor" in 1917). Several other Regnant Queens in British history had done the same. QEII's keeping her House name is the exception, not the rule.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • In regards to the extent of the king's cancer. Initially only the doctors and Churchill know. When the king's physician does inform him that it's returned, fatally, George decides to keep it from his family.
    • Churchill tries to keep his strokes a secret, but his Private Secretary lets it slip when he thinks Elizabeth summoned him to discuss it.
    • Tommy Lascelles, on the Queen Mother's instruction, deliberately hides the full details of Royal Marriages Act 1772 from the Queen, in hopes that Princess Margaret will lose interest in Peter before she is 25. When that doesn't happen, he instructs Michael Adeane to bring up the full act as a final roadblock.
  • Look Both Ways: Venetia steps off a kerb and is immediately run over by a bus. Granted, visibility because of the smog is so low that she couldn't see the bus coming anyway.
  • Love Martyr: Louis Mountbatten commiserates with Elizabeth about being hopelessly in love with "wild spirits," mentioning his humiliation at his wife's many flagrant affairs. Poor Harold Macmillan not only puts up with his wife's decades-long affair, but overhears her telling her lover that "his love disgusts me."
  • Love Ruins the Realm: The memory of the abdication crisis still hangs over the Windsors, which plays a large part in Elizabeth's ultimate decision to forbid Margaret and Peter's marriage.
  • Malicious Misnaming: David and Wallis have a number of unflattering nicknames for everyone. (Elizabeth II's is "Shirley Temple".)
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Tony Armstrong-Jones is shown having sex all over his studio, including on a ladder at one point.
  • Manly Tears: As he prepares to depart England after breaking off his engagement to Princess Margaret, Peter Townsend breaks down into sobs for a moment.
  • Married to the Job: Elizabeth being the reigning monarch doesn't sit well with her husband Philip. He objects not just to the disruption in their lives but because he feels emasculated by the fact that she is emphatically his sovereign.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Philip remarks that his and Elizabeth's children, Charles and Anne, are this.
  • Meaningful Rename: Subverted. When asked what she wants her regnal name to be, Elizabeth says that she'll keep her own. Everyone immediately realises the significance.
  • Mighty Whitey:
    • The royal speeches delivered in Kenya and Rhodesia celebrate how the English brought civilization to "savage" countries. It's clear that this does not go down well with many of the indigenous auditors.
    • Later subverted (or reversed) by Elizabeth when she dances with Kwame Nkrumah; the Ghanaian press calls her a socialist for that (high praise from them, deeply amusing to her and Philip).
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Winston Churchill seems to have this attitude about the Great Smog: however much he hears about the disaster it's causing, he doesn't do anything until his secretary dies.
  • Mistaken Confession: When Elizabeth invites Churchill's Private Secretary, Jock Colville, to the Palace to discuss who should replace Tommy Lascelles as her Private Secretary, he accidentally lets slip that the Cabinet has been hiding Churchill's strokes from her, mistakenly believing she already found out.
  • Moment of Silence: When it comes time for Philip to tell Elizabeth of her father's death, all the sound cuts out, as Philip just stares at Elizabeth, as a growing expression of dread just falls across her face.
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • David, the former Edward VIII, explains the significance of each step in the coronation ceremony for his American and French guests — though with quite a bit of sarcasm.
    • There's also the photojournalist who appears in one scene to explain the political situation in Egypt, and is never heard from again.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Matt Smith as Prince Philip, of all people. He goes shirtless for a few scenes and it's not hard to see why the Duke was considered a devastatingly handsome man in his younger years.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Queen Mary sneaks cigarettes behind her nurse's back as she's dying of lung disease.
  • Mutual Envy: Elizabeth and Margaret admit that they feel this for each other. Margaret would like a chance to "shine", while Elizabeth would love to be out of the spotlight.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • After dismissing the Great Smog as a fog, Churchill visits the hospital where his secretary has just died and sees the effects of the fog first hand. The expression on his face when he realizes how wrong he was says it all.
    • Jacqueline Kennedy is genuinely mortified and remorseful after blurting out some rather unkind and tactless comments about Elizabeth while under the influence of her husband's pain medication.
  • Never My Fault: The Queen Mother deflects blame for her and her husband not giving Elizabeth a wider education beyond the court and the constitution, by blaming instead their advisors, including Elizabeth's constitutional tutor, the Vice-Provost of Eton College, for not telling them the young Princess might need a more rounded curriculum.
  • The Nicknamer: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor all have mean-spirited nicknames for everyone in the Royal Family and British Establishment.
  • Not So Different: After experiencing a bit of jealousy about the glamorous and youthful Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth is surprised to discover that like herself in person she's actually quite shy and would be much happier living a life outside of the spotlight.
  • Nouveau Riche:
    • Both the Queen Mother and the Duke of Windsor privately, though transparently, turn their noses up at Philip for being a scion of the Royal Houses of Greece and Denmark, the former a kingdom barely 90 years old to the UK's near 900. The Queen Mother even calls Philip's mother a Hun nun, which is odd, as Philip's mother was born at Windsor Castle in the presence of Queen Victoria, and was a bridesmaid at Queen Mary's wedding to George V.
    • Even Queen Mary disparages the Greek Royal Family by exalting Britain's long traditions when Elizabeth brings up Philip's desire to modernize the British Monarchy:
      Queen Mary: Yes, but he represents a royal family of carpetbaggers and parvenus, that goes back what? Ninety years? What would he know about Alfred the Great, the Rod of Equity and Mercy, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror or Henry the Eighth? It's the Church of England, dear, not the Church of Denmark or Greece.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Martin Charteris has this reaction when a Reuters reporter turns on the radio in the hotel lounge at Nairobi and hears of George VI's death, he immediately rushes to Sagana before Elizabeth can hear the news from any other source.
    • In the middle of an undignified argument, Elizabeth chases Philip out of their lodge and into the lens of a newsreel camera crew. Both of them stop dead, horrified that it will be broadcast across the world. (When Elizabeth apologizes to the cameraman for the display, though, he simply exposes the reel to sunlight and hands her the can.)
    • John Kennedy congratulates Jackie on her catty insults about Elizabeth spurring the queen to keep Ghana from joining the Soviet Union. Jackie tears up in horror at learning Elizabeth knows what she said just after putting on a big show of camaraderie, and they have another meeting soon.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • The most influential advice Elizabeth receives on Margaret's marriage comes from David, the former King Edward VIII. David has spent the last 15 years defending his breaking of royal rules for love, but still advises Elizabeth to put the crown before Margaret's marriage.
    • Sir Tommy Lascelles, normally a stickler for tradition and custom, combating any breach of protocol to his last, suggests that Elizabeth consider removing Churchill from power for his mishandling of the Great Smog, a crisis which is killing hundreds but Churchill is denying is even a problem. From Lascelles, who wouldn't even let Philip escort Elizabeth down the flight ramp because it would be improper, it's a shocking sentiment, highlighting just how dire the situation had become. note 
    • When Elizabeth tells Phillip that she is thinking of rehabilitating the Duke of Windsor, Phillip points out that it says something about how much he is against the idea that he wants her to seek the advice of Tommy Lascelles.
  • On the Rebound: Elizabeth is worried about the fact that Margaret jumps into marriage with Tony right after learning that Peter Townsend is getting married.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Queen Mary did this in Episode 2; it devastates her. By this point, she had outlived three of her children; the aforementioned Bertie, but also her younger sons, the Duke of Kent (d. 1942), and Prince John (d. 1919).
    • Also the case with Churchill, who lost his daughter Marigold. The painter Graham Sutherland leads Churchill to the realization that, at some level, he is still mourning for her.
  • Parents as People: George and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon are portrayed as being loving and by and large Good Parents, but still possessing human faults. They decide to follow advice that Elizabeth only needs schooling in the areas directly relating to the monarch rather than the broad range of subjects a normal student has (leaving her feeling unequipped after taking the throne) and Margaret ends up feeling as though she's the lesser sister, causing her to act out for attention.
    • Elizabeth and Philip fall under this, especially in Season 2, they love Charles but one either sees a reminder of her mortality in him (Elizabeth) or one feels outranked by Charles (Philip).
    • Lord Mountbatten references this trope in "Paterfamilias" after Philip was disgraced by his father at the funeral of his sister, brother-in-law, and nephews:
      You may hate him now, but one day, God willing, you will be a father yourself. And you will fall short, as all parents do. And be hated. And you will know what it is to pray for the forgiveness of your own son.
  • Parental Favoritism: George used to say "Elizabeth is my pride, and Margaret is my joy" or "Elizabeth is my pride but Margaret is my joy," depending on which daughter you ask. The Queen Mum denies any such thing (and George did love both daughters deeply), but Elizabeth suspects that he loved Margaret better, and Margaret believes it because it's one of the few things she has over Elizabeth.
  • Parental Marriage Veto:
    • The reigning sovereign must consent to the marriage of anyone in their house, until that person is twenty-five, and even then Parliament must give its approval after a year has passed. This throws a wrench in Margaret and Peter Townsend's plans.
    • The Queen Mother is also opposed, but she is more subtle in expressing her disapproval, discreetly instructing Tommy Lascelles to do everything he can to prevent the marriage.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: George VI's body is found when his servants bring him breakfast one morning.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The Queen Mother tries this on the television at one point, but the problem is resolved by a servant adjusting the antennae.
  • Perpetual Smiler: This is what's expected of royalty in parades. Elizabeth's face actually starts to have muscle spasms from excessive smiling on the Commonwealth tour and she needs an injection to relax it.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Philip is given a fairly ambivalent characterization, frequently shown being self-centered, frivolous or oafish. These are balanced out by other scenes in which he makes a well-timed joke to lighten the mood or shows genuine affection for his children.
    • While he is still the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing described above, David is remarkably understanding when Elizabeth calls on him for advice on the Townsend affair, and is sympathetic to the conflicts between Elizabeth the person, and Elizabeth the Sovereign, but ultimately reminds her that she must be Elizabeth the Sovereign above all else.
  • The Power of Trust: Elizabeth lectures Churchill on this when she learns that he's been hiding his (and Anthony Eden's) poor health from her. She echoes her childhood tutor, who says that the security of the state depends on trust between the monarch and the government.
  • Pretty in Mink: Most of the highborn ladies wear furs at some point.
    • At Elizabeth's wedding, Margaret wears a short white rabbit cape, and Mrs. Churchill wears a fox jacket.
    • Both Elizabeth and Margaret have a scene or two where they attend events wearing ballgowns and a white fur wrap, which the real life queen and princess frequently did in the 50s and 60s.
  • Race Against the Clock: When George VI died, Elizabeth was still at the Treetops hotel, and with 1950's international communications being what they were, palace and government officials, both in London and Nairobi, scramble to inform her before she learns of it from the press. Churchill even tries to get the BBC to delay its announcement until she has been informed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Delivered to Macmillan:
      Elizabeth: I've been queen barely 10 years, and in that time I’ve had three prime ministers, all of them ambitious men, clever men, brilliant men. Not one has lasted the course. They’ve either been too old, too ill, or too weak. A confederacy of elected quitters.
    • Billy Wallace also learns that his smarmy gloating about getting into a duel over cheating on his fiance is a mistake, especially when said fiance happens to be Princess Margaret.
      Margaret: Pathetic, weak, contemptible fool. I never even wanted to marry you. You were only ever an act of charity, of desperation. And now you insult me? You? People like you don't get to insult people like me; you get to be eternally grateful. [She storms over to him; he flinches back.] You've got quite a way with women. Take a look at this face: a picture of disappointment and disgust. This is the look that every woman you ever know will come to share. This is what the next forty years of your life will look like. [Throws his drink in his face]
    • Margaret also has a tendency to deliver rather waspish put-downs towards Elizabeth about her lack of charisma and personality as monarch, often to Elizabeth's face. It's deconstructed in this case, however; when given a chance to fill in for Elizabeth while she's on a royal tour, Margaret ends up causing offence to numerous dignitaries by being a bit too open with her honest (and rather cutting) remarks, requiring a dressing down from Elizabeth. Margaret is consequently forced to admit that the only reason she's so snide towards Elizabeth is out of jealousy and inferiority since, no matter how vicious she gets, at the end of the day she'll always be trapped in Elizabeth's shadow and there's nothing she can do about it.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Peter Townsend is given a useless posting where his "subordinates" constantly keep tabs on him in order to keep him away from Margaret until she's twenty-five.
  • Remittance Man: The Duke of Windsor is an unusually high-ranking version of this. His brother explicitly promises him an allowance if he'll stay out of Britain.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The show offers plenty of circumstantial evidence that Philip cheated on Elizabeth in the 1950s, but doesn't show him doing it or even talking about it. It's left to the viewer to guess how much there actually is to the rumors.
  • Romanticism vs. Enlightenment: The subtext of many debates about the monarchy, crystallizing around Elizabeth's coronation ceremony. Philip is firmly on Team Enlightenment, denying the Divine Right of Kings and striving to make the event more modern and accessible. But the Duke of Windsor, commenting on the ceremony to his friends, makes the case for Team Romanticism:
    David: Who wants transparency when you can have magic? Who wants prose when you can have poetry? Put away the veil, and what are you left with? An ordinary young woman of modest ability and little imagination. Wrap her up like this, anoint her with oil, and hey presto, what do you have? A goddess!
  • Royally Screwed Up: Less so than other British dynasties, but between David being David, Philip chafing in Elizabeth's shadow, and Margaret's affair with Peter Townsend, the Windsors have a lot of difficulties.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Elizabeth takes her duties very seriously, a trait she gets from her father, which he got from his mother and father. (David, or Edward VIII, notably lacks this.)
  • Rule of Drama:
    • Given how the Royal Family is famously zealous in protecting their personal privacy, we can never know how close to reality the series really is.
    • The main reason for the Star-Crossed Lovers subplot for Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend, at least after Churchill's retirement. In Real Life, both the Queen and the Eden government were supportive of their relationship, and it remains a mystery why the marriage did not go ahead. note 
    • Michael Parker was not forced to resign in disgrace the moment the news of his divorce broke. He resigned a month after his and Phillip's return from their big world tour, and this was most likely his own decision, since both Elizabeth and Phillip had expressed their support for him, and made him a Commander of the Royal Victorian order upon his resignation. Parker and Phillip remained in touch until Parker's death in 2001.
    • A large part of Phillip's dudgeon and resentment over his place as subordinate to his wife and being overshadowed is this, as in public at least he has been scrupulous in accepting his place and duties.
  • Scenery Porn: Along with lavish recreations of Windsor, Clarence House and so-on, many location shots love to highlight the stunning natural beauty of Britain's countrysides.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: The ageing Churchill is prone to dozing off during quiet moments.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Elizabeth wears Philip's shirt after she wakes up at their Kenyan lodge, while he sleeps naked.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Clement Attlee, according to Winston Churchill, although he considered it derogatory since that is the kind of man Churchill was.
  • Shipping Torpedo: By the final episode of the first series, the press, most of the public, Elizabeth and (eventually) Philip are all shipping Peter and Margaret. The Church of England, however, makes the Queen act as the reluctant torpedo.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The habit of officials placing all the really important documents at the bottom of the Sovereign's Red Box is a move straight out of Yes, Minister. Civil servants, it seems, treat Kings in much the same way they do Cabinet Ministers.
    • After learning that Lord Altrincham's critique is gaining momentum and turning into a full-blown crisis for the monarchy, Elizabeth is shown contemplating a dead stag. A dead stag was also used as a symbol of the potential downfall of the monarchy in The Queen.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Elizabeth. She's charming, well-bred and impeccably polite, but she will not have anyone forget that she is the Queen.
  • Skewed Priorities: Churchill is more concerned by Philip's flying lessons than the toxic smog. (He finally treats it seriously when the total lack of visibility results in his young secretary being killed by a bus.)
  • Sleeping Single: Justified in that the royal couple's separate (though adjoining) bedrooms in Buckingham Palace are traditional for British gentry. The contrast between that and earlier Sleep Cute scenes does emphasize the distance that grows between them, however.
  • Sliding Down The Slippery Slope: Tommy Lascelles believes that this is how Edward VIII's abdication crisis came about: he started with small acts of selfishness that snowballed into bigger ones. That's why Tommy is so uptight whenever Elizabeth wants to break protocol.
  • Social Climber: Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten, sees his nephew's marriage as a way up for himself. He also forced his nephew to join the Navy rather than the RAF because the social prospects were better.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: King George VI and Group Captain Peter Townsend good-naturedly exchange dirty limericks while getting ready for Elizabeth's wedding to Philip.
  • Speech Impediment: King George VI had an case of stuttering that everyone ignored except when Prince Philip, tired of Queen Elizabeth's Freudian Excuse to be perfect all of the time, briefly mocked it. His reward was a tennis racket hurled at his face.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's something of a spiritual prequel to The Queen and The Audience, as its main scriptrwriter penned both.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend, the most famous of the era, form a major plot thread.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Members of the royal family and household provide a masterclass in British stoicism. Elizabeth herself rarely shows any emotion when receiving visitors or in public.
  • Stylistic Suck: The band that greets Philip and Elizabeth in Kenya clearly hasn't been acquainted with European music for that long. The crowd tries to hide their winces with plastic smiles.
  • Take That!: The episode that finally covers Edward VIII's Nazi collaboration ends with a bitter montage of real life photos of him and Wallis happily meeting German soldiers and even Hitler himself, essentially saying "Just in case you thought we were making any of this up."
  • Tantrum Throwing: After Philip cruelly taunts Elizabeth's need for approval by imitating her father and his stammer, she hurls a tumbler and then a tennis racket at him as she chases him from their room.
  • Technology Porn: "Gelignite" begins and ends with exhaustive depictions of the Buckingham Palace phone lines, with something as simple as two sisters having a chat having to go through a ton of operators.
  • That Man Is Dead: When Anthony Eden visits George VI, hoping that, as his friend Albert Windsor, he could persuade Churchill to retire because of his health, the King replies that Albert Windsor is dead, and George VI has taken his place.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: David will never be forgiven for the abdication and his marriage to Wallis Simpson, especially since many of those same people hold him indirectly, or directly if you're the Queen Mother, responsible for the early death of George VI.
    • Further explored in season 2, and made a major plot point in "Vergangenheit". Elizabeth attempts to live according to Christ's teachings, which are very clear about forgiveness. When David comes to her, asking for a chance to do good for his country again, she is inclined to forgive his past crimes and grant his request, even after uncovering some post-war German intelligence about his relations with the Nazis. However, after speaking to Tommy Lascelles and learning David's intentions of dethroning her father and his treasonous cooperation with the Nazis, she is unable to forgive her uncle.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Tony Armstrong-Jones has regular liaisons with a married couple, the Frys.
  • Title Drop: Happens with every episode; for example, the first episode, titled "Wolferton Splash", refers to the Duck Pond where George VI takes Philip for shooting, as well as explain to him what it means to be married to the future Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Elizabeth and Margaret, respectively. Elizabeth is the heir (and later monarch), practical, business-like, authoritative, and a Wrench Wench while Margaret is an idle princess whose wardrobe is full-on couture and hardly expresses much ambitions outside of True Love. It's played with in that the girlier half (Margaret) is the more rebellious one who is pushing against expectations foisted on her while Elizabeth is the more dutiful half.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Philip's adolescence was basically this. His mother was locked in an insane asylum, his father abandoned the family, he was bounced around between relatives and boarding schools, and then his beloved sister and her family died in a plane crash, with his father blaming him for the event. In real life that wasn't even the end of his losses, as the next year his uncle and guardian George Mountbatten also died.
  • True Love Is Boring: Though Elizabeth and Philip's real-life marriage was understandably not without some bumps, historians agree that it was nevertheless far less turbulent and dramatic than portrayed in the series and generally devoid of the hardships and serious strain the couple faces by the end of the first series in order to emphasize the heavy weight of the Crown and the difficulties it places on the relationships of those involved.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • David, which is abundantly clear when he meets his mother before George VI's funeral. It should be noted that King George V thought so little of his heir that he openly hoped that David wouldn't have children so that Bertie and later Elizabeth, his favourite grandchild, would inherit the throne.
    • Antony Armstrong-Jones is also this to his mother compared to his half-brother, due to his being the child of an earlier, unhappy marriage.
  • Unreliable Voiceover:
    • When Billy Wallace describes his duel with Colin Tennant to Margaret, we hear his self-flattering version of events while watching a much less dignified reality.
    • David's letter to to Wallis about his trip to England describes him being greeted by a "crowd of supporters," but there are only a few people actually there.
  • Verbal Tic: Elizabeth's "Oh?" can be translated as "I am trying very hard to be diplomatic, but words fail me right now."
  • Warts and All: What Churchill dislikes about his 80th birthday portrait by Graham Sutherland, as he wanted the portrait to show him as Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister and Statesmen, not Winston Churchill, a tired, 80-year-old man. After arguing with Sutherland about the portrait, he admits privately to his wife that the portrait is the truth, and he can do nothing about it. As in real life, Lady Churchill later has the portrait burned as the episode ends.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • In the midst of a gruelling Commonwealth tour, Philip accuses Elizabeth of still thinking she's The Unfavorite and trying to posthumously win her father's praise.
    • Antony Armstrong-Jones is so desperate for his mother's approval that it seems to be his main reason for marrying Margaret.
  • Wham Line: When Elizabeth refuses to take a separate regnal name, the response is "Then long live Queen Elizabeth." Everyone promptly pauses as the historical significance of that phrase hits them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Margaret grows angrier and angrier with Elizabeth for standing between her and Peter and isn't shy about expressing it, especially when Elizabeth is forced to break her promise about supporting their match.
    • Elizabeth takes Winston Churchill and Lord Salisbury to task over their hiding Churchill and Eden's poor health, seriously damaging the trust between Crown and Government upon which the entire function of the British Constitution rests.
    • After Philip's previous dissatisfaction builds up into jealousy over Elizabeth's close friendship with Porchey, Elizabeth shames him with a short speech in which she says that plenty of people did want her to marry Porchey, and it probably would have been an easier marriage — but for better or worse, she has only ever loved Philip.
  • Widow Woman: The Queen Mum. When in Scotland visiting friends, she laments that her daughters won't give her anything to do and instead take every duty on themselves — she'd like to have some useful employment that will take her mind off her grief. She gets her wish when Churchill objects to the way Margaret performs her duties and shifts her remaining engagements to the Queen Mother.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Queen Mary writes Elizabeth a letter shortly after her accession, imploring her and reminding her that she must put the duties of the Crown before everything else, even personal happiness. Churchill invokes this trope even more pointedly to both Elizabeth and Margaret in Episode 8, saying that the public should never see their real selves.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men: Elizabeth frequently resists the government's attempts to put a leash on Philip, saying at one point that his proud spirit is part of what drew her to him. (This hits a limit when he initially refuses to kneel before her at her coronation, however.)
  • Wrench Wench: Elizabeth advises her Kenyan escorts on how to fix their car, pointing out that she was a mechanic during the war.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: During the flashback to Philip's time at Gordonstoun in "Paterfamilias", one of the other boys sneers at him for being a mongrel European noble whose sisters all married Nazis, whose mother is in an asylum, and whose father left the family to live with his "whore" in Paris. "Monaco," Philip grumbles to the last of these.
  • You Are in Command Now: Elizabeth is forced to take the throne far sooner than she was expecting or prepared for, as a woman still in her twenties, while England is still rebuilding from the war and under rationing.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: David isn't explicitly barred from the country, but he'll lose his allowance if he returns without invitation, so he's effectively exiled.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: "Marionettes" has Elizabeth voice the man who punched Lord Altrincham as "chivalrous" but then is forced to have to concede that she has to consider Altrincham's points after being told that the puncher was a member of a reactionary and racist group in the UK.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Adultery is a major theme of the second season, with the (possible) straying by Philip accompanied by similar issues between the Parkers, the Mountbattens, the Macmillans and the Kennedys.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Even after having one cancerous lung removed, George VI begins coughing blood again. It's at this point his doctor defies his colleagues and informs George that he likely has less than a year to live.
  • Yo Yo Plot Point: Not from the series, but from an earlier, similar-themed work by the same writer; the episode "Marionettes" repeats a metaphor from Peter Morgan's screenplay for The Queen, wherein a hunted stag represents the threat posed to the monarchy by their apparent inability to move with the times.

Alternative Title(s): The Crown

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