‘The Crown’ season 5 recap: The beginning of the end

‘The Crown’ season 5 recap: The beginning of the end


Although The Crown is a historical drama based on Queen Elizabeth II’s life, season 5 focuses on different branches of her immediate family tree. In ten episodes, viewers are transported back to the 1990s as they witness how the royals navigated the fall of the Soviet Union, multiple scandals, and the inevitable end to a fairytale marriage.

The Crown

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles in season 5 of ‘The Crown’

| Credit: Netflix

Episode 1: “Queen Victoria Syndrome”

We begin the season with a flashback of a young Queen Elizabeth christening the royal yacht Britannia, intermingled with a current-day Elizabeth receiving a physical from her doctor. It was a great decision by the showrunners to place a bunion pad on Queen Elizabeth’s toe. The Royalty is just like us!

But the point isn’t to show the Queen’s high heart rate or slight weight gain. The main issue is Elizabeth’s age. Especially when a poll conducted by the Sunday Times claims she is irrelevant and out of touch. Charles is young, energetic, and modern. More than half of Britain believes he should be on throne.

Do you know anyone else who thinks Charles should reign as king? Camilla Parker-Bowles. However, that’s not the point. She was not invited to the “second honeymoon”, which Charles and Diana shared with their sons. Charles invites several cousins along on holiday to Diana’s dismay. This means Charles doesn’t want to have any intimate contact with her. They can fake it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be photographed. They put on an amazing show, with big smiles and enthusiastic waves to all the photographers.

While the Prince and Princess of Wales are partying it up in Italy, the Queen is chugging along on the Britannia with Prince Philip, who delivers some distressing news to his wife. The Britannia is old and worn down. She is stubborn and antiquated. It’s time for the royal yacht to be replaced.

This metaphor serves as a guideline throughout the entire episode. As you might expect, the Queen is not interested in embracing the idea of “out with old and in with new”. And her staff goes above and beyond to keep that Sunday Times article from gracing her presence.

Diana is shocked to hear that Charles has cancelled their vacation in Italy because of a “scheduling dispute.” We then see him with John Major, the Prime Minister. Charles teases the “Queen Victoria Syndrome”, which is an idea that the public believes the queen has been too long on the throne. John reminds Charles, however, that this was a poll and it’s risky to be guided by them.

Charles presses harder. John is informed by him that Edward VII, his great-grandfather, waited in the wings for 60 years because Queen Victoria didn’t trust him. The man was a free thinker. Edward proved that doubters were wrong when he came to his hour. Charles believes that Edward’s voice was not included earlier. Charles invites John to Scotland for a ball to find out firsthand if the institution has “safe hands.”

Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce on ‘The Crown’

Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce on ‘The Crown’

| Credit: Netflix

Never fear. The crown is in good hands. Elizabeth reads the famous article and walks the corgis. She straightens her spine and considers it a compliment. According to her, she is consistent, stable, and diligent. What more could you ask for in a Queen?

And to be clear, nothing is going to pasture, including her beloved Britannia. The Prime Minister is informed by Elizabeth, who gently but firmly informs him that the royal yacht was the only thing she hasn’t inherited from her parents. It is a floating expression of Queen Elizabeth herself and the government will be paying for its refurbishment, thankyouverymuch.

Cut to the Ghillie Ball in Scotland. A calm, confident Prime Minster reviews the various generations of royalties and notes that senior members are dangerously diluted. The younger generations, however, are more grateful and entitled. Worse, the Prince of Wales doesn’t appreciate his greatest asset (hello Diana). John can’t help feeling that the country’s stability could be at risk. Spoiler alert: It does.

The Crown Season 5

Elizabeth Debicki

| Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Episode 2: “The System”

At age 50, Prince Philip gave up the love of his life.

Wait. This is the record. Prince Philip gave up the sporting love of his life. That sounds better.

In an interview, Prince Philip manages not to bore anyone by explaining the joy of carriage driving. We also see him adopting an entourage of people who share his new hobby.

One unlikely friend is his godson Norton (Natascha McElhone). Philip visits Penny Knatchbull (Natascha McElhone) after Leonora’s death from kidney cancer. He encourages her find a way to cope with her grief. Penny shows the Prince a disorganized carriage in the barn, eager to impress him. Philip warmly welcomes Penny into his fold and offers to teach her carriage driving.

Is this strange? Yes, it is. But sometimes biographical facts can be random and we have to accept that. Philip is an adrenaline junkie and carriage riding fills him with joy.

Diana is a joy-seeker. Her good friend James Colthurst (Oliver Chris), relays a message from Andrew Morton (Andrew Steele) to her. Rumours suggest that someone is writing a book about her personal life. This would be a ploy. Morton is interested to tell Diana’s true story. The best part is that nobody has to know she was involved.

James acts as the middleman. Morton will ask James questions and give them to Diana. Diana will record herself speaking into a tape recorder, and then give the tapes to James to give back to Morton. She spills the beans. Diana talks about Camilla and how the Queen refuses to admit the problem. She discusses her insecurity and how the crown can take legal heirship of her children. Diana even confesses her eating disorder and previous suicide attempts.

The tapes reveal that Camilla was the victim of many nightmares. Charles never married Camilla. His true love was the only one Diana could compete with. The broken woman recorded hours of emotion, frustration, questions, and other details. Days later, James is pushed off the road by his bicycle. Morton’s apartment has been emptied and Diana believes someone is listening to her private phone line. Is it coincidence that Prince Philip calls soon after? I don’t think so. At first, Philip is friendly and speaks of the importance privacy and confidentiality. He begins to ease into his argument by reminding Diana that he has always been protective of her and shared her frustrations with Charles. The news about this book has changed his mind. She has been in the royal family more than a decade and knows how things work. They are not a single family. They are a system. They are a system. She may not realize the extent of the damage.

Philip encourages Diana not to be afraid to be creative and to do what she needs to be happy. It is possible that he had the same conversation with Charles. This is why Camilla isn’t hidden in shadowed corners anymore. Diana must adhere to one rule: to be loyal to her husband and her family in public.

Diana asks if this means she should be silent. The answer is yes. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t take anything to the grave.

We all know that Diana rocked that boat. Andrew Morton’s book, Diana: Her True Life Story, depicting a deeply unhappy woman behind the fairytale facade, sold millions of copies. The royal family is now in real crisis.

The Crown Season 5

Khalid Abdalla, Salim Dau

| Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Episode 3: “Mou Mou”

It’s 1946, and “the best salesman in Alexandria” is peddling Coca-Cola in the streets of Egypt. His name is Mohamed Al-Fayed and he dreams of being like British royalty. They are treated like gods.

Fast forward to 1979, when Mohamed (Salim Dau) and his son Dodi (Khalid Abdalla) travel to France to purchase (and rescue) the notorious Hotel Ritz Paris. Mohamed claims he wants to make her great once again but is discouraged by the treatment he and his coworkers receive, despite having more money than the asking price.

After a quick change of heart, the hotel businesspeople agree to a deal and we see the Al-Fayeds in high fashion celebrating the next night. Unfortunately, Mohamed orders his son to immediately fire a Bahamian waiter on the basis of his skin color.

Dodi agrees and later regrets that he made a mistake. The man, Sydney Johnson (Jude Akuwudike), was the personal valet for the Duke of Windsor (Edward), for thirty years before his death. Mohamed, after hearing the royal terminology, changes his mind and asks for an audience with Sydney. We learn that Sydney was responsible for every aspect of the Duke’s life, from his waking up until the time he retired for the night.

Mohamed was sold. To help him be a British gentleman, he hires Sydney to be his personal valet. Sydney agrees to give Mohamed a stack books to read. He then teaches him the finer points of life, such as the importance of polo and the importance of proper clothing.

Sydney settles a frustrated Mohamed at a polo match when he’s not seated directly by the queen in her box. Mohamed discovers that Harrods is owned by a man with this privilege and decides to purchase the “heart” of British society for six hundred million pounds.

Then he tosses some money to Dodi so he can finance a small motion picture called Chariots of Fire. You may have seen the Oscar-winning film.

Finally, when the Duchess dies (Edward’s American wife Wallis Simpson), Mohamed buys the home of the Duke and Duchess to restore it to its former glory. In the hope of gaining an audience with the queen, he claims that money is not an object and gives the villa back to British royalty.

Knowing that the house contains valuable possessions, the Queen invites people to come and collect paintings, jewelry, furniture, as well as the Duke’s personal diaries…which may contain correspondence with the Nazis. Yikes! Dodi, Sydney, and Mohamed look on as history after history passes through the front door, without saying a word.

Sydney whispers to Mohamed that whatever his feelings are, the former Duke believed the same thing once upon an time. Mohamed saved the house and deserved greater respect from the Queen. She should have at least sent a thank-you note.

Sydney is confused and says that he has just made the queen very happy. Why should he be so upset? Sweet Sydney nods and it is clear that they have a special relationship. It’s evident that Mohamed nurse Sydney and stays with him until his passing. We see Mohamed at Sydney’s grave, grieving the loss of a close confidant. We then see him in Her Majesty’s box at a Polo match, right next to Her Majesty’s seat, which is where he always wanted. The Queen decides not to sit next to Harrods’ owner and asks her team to substitute someone for her while she chats with her family.

Who might this lucky royal be? Diana, who instantly charmed Mohamed, affectionately calling him Mou Mou. There is a spark when she meets Mou Mou’s son Dodi. But it quickly fades. This is chilling foreshadowing as Dodi and Diana will soon fall in love and their lives will end in a matter of years.

The Crown Season 5

Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce

| Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix

Episode 4: “Annus Horribilis”

Any episode that features Princess Margaret, the Queen’s wayward sister, is one to be remembered. Margaret, the Queen’s wayward sister, shares her love of music while being interviewed on the radio.

This particular meaning has a name: Peter Townsend (Timothy Dalton). He is Margaret’s soulmate, and Elizabeth forbade him from marrying. After their split, he wrote Margaret a letter to inform her that he would be attending a London reception and would love to see her.

Elizabeth is reluctant to share her feelings about Margaret’s decision to not attend the reception. She has bigger problems right now. Prince Andrew wants to talk about his marriage and how his mother was featured in a trash magazine where another man sucked on her toes. To quote Andrew, “It’s embarrassing, Mummy! “

Andrew wants to talk about d-word. Mummy, the word “duty” is not a duty. He wants one. He feels terrible about it too. Fergie was supposed be the fun, fresh, modern Fergie, but they destroyed her because of her differences. Andrew claims that no one with character, originality or spark is allowed to work in the system.

Cut to Margaret meeting Peter Townsend after 35 years apart. But first, let me just say that Margaret’s fuchsia dress with the shoulder pads and bows was everything my ’90s heart loved.

The old Margaret is back! The one who sings, wears hats of other people, and smokes like an chimney is back! After dancing with Peter, her hopes of a happy ending are somewhat dashed when she learns that he doesn’t have much time to live and that he would like to return the letters that she wrote to him.

The Queen’s daughter Anne visits her mother the next day. Elizabeth is told by Anne that she will marry Commander Tim Lawrence even though her divorce from her first husband is still fresh in her mind. Anne quickly reminds Elizabeth of her duty and her dedication to her role as a queen, even though Elizabeth balks. Happiness. She has married Tim and is happy. The end.

Next it is Prince Charles’ turn complaining about his marriage. Unfortunately, he is the future king. God’s law says marriage is for life. Happily married is a preference. It is not a requirement.

Charles informs his mother that Diana wants to destroy the crown. And here’s an even quicker tally: Andrew, Anne, Margaret and Anne are all divorced. Their family is not morally sound.

Finally, there’s a fire in Windsor Castle. It’s a great way to kick a queen when she’s down! We witness Elizabeth’s home being destroyed around her.

Margaret, on a walk with Peter gives the details of the damage. Over 100 rooms were destroyed, including the crimson-colored drawing room where they had spent an entire day. Peter began to plan for their future that afternoon. These plans, just like the drawings room, went up in flames. Peter turns to Margaret and inquires if their love is lasting. We get the answer when Margaret enters Elizabeth’s drawing room and asks how the fire started. Elizabeth blames a blown fuse but Margaret wonders loudly if it was foul play. There are many suspects who would like to burn it down. After years of neglect, Diana comes to my mind. Andrew is furious at the mother. Charles wants a divorce.

And what about Margaret? Yes! She has every right to set fire to her sister’s home. Because she denied Margaret her true love. Peter was her sun. Peter was her water.

Elizabeth calmly informs Margaret that it was the Queen who denied it, and not her sister. Margaret quickly rebuts that Anne was not subject to the same prohibition. She can marry her average man without any hesitation. The outcome is the same in every way. Anne’s story ends happily. Margaret’s story does not. Even after 40 years, why can’t Elizabeth admit her part in what happened? This brings us to “annus horribilis,” which is the “horrible year.” On the Queen’s 40th anniversary of her succession, she blatantly shares with everyone that “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” She admits to the mistakes of the past and hopes for reconciliation. Then she pays tribute to her family, particularly Margaret, by noting that they have been her sun and water for 40 years. The episode ends with Elizabeth and Margaret talking on the phone before bedtime. First, Elizabeth apologizes to the family for being so difficult. Margaret then asks Elizabeth to come over to get a little drunk. Elizabeth refuses and Margaret tells her to go on her own with Rum.

Margaret laughs when Elizabeth compares her sister with a pirate. Rum is her dog. Elizabeth giggles like a schoolgirl when she mentions that her dogs’ names are Brandy & Sherry.

The news that Elizabeth and Margaret named their dogs after alcoholic drinks might make me happier than the fuchsia gown.

The Crown Season 5

Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker-Bowles and Dominic West as Prince Charles on ‘The Crown’

| Credit: Netflix

Episode 5: “The Way Ahead”

Everyone is listening. Everyone wants to make a quick buck. It’s shocking to learn that Charles and Camilla’s phone conversation could be recorded and sold to a newspaper.

It all begins with an innocent phone call to the Parker Bowles household. Andrew Parker-Bowles answers only to hear Charles’ voice. Awkward. Camilla raced to the other room to talk with her lover. I am shocked at how ridiculous the details of this romance are. Charles asks Camilla if she would like to hear a speech. The scene moves from Charles’ manor to a van in a nearby neighborhood where a man dials into different frequencies using a transmitter. The man recognizes a familiar voice and hits record just in the right time to get the juicy bits. The man runs straight to his newspaper, where he is paid a handsome amount. The editors keep the tape because they fear they could be held responsible for a royal marriage breakup if they publish it. It is kept safe for another day.

We find out that the Prince of Wales and Princess of Wales have separated after three years. Although it is a sad decision, the task force known as the Way Ahead Group was created to save the monarchy. Charles claims that the group’s “modern modifications” are a joke.

Charles decides to take matters into his own hands, and assembles his own small group of followers. When he reaches a bit of momentum, the Daily Mirror publishes the tape from three years prior, and all hell breaks loose. It is clear that the self-destruct button has been pressed and something must be done. The solution is to air an episode of television where Charles is followed by cameras. The public should see a future king in action. One who prepares the monarchy for the next millennium. Charles claims that the crown will prosper by adapting to reform and being open to the possibility of reform. He claims that he is not a supporter of one faith as he will be the head of an established church. He is in favor of faith all around. Suddenly, the reporter switches gears and asks about Charles’ failed marriage. He also asks about Camilla and whether she was a factor in the collapse. Charles can’t help but acknowledge that Camilla is a close friend, even though the newspaper article is fresh in everyone’s minds. He promised to keep his vows until it became clear that the marriage couldn’t be saved. Old friendships were rekindled when nothing was possible.

Charles opens his heart to the nation. The PR stunt works. His response seems to delight younger people. The other two outcomes from the special are Camilla leaving her husband (finally) and Diana stepping out in public wearing what is infamously known as her black off-the-shoulder “revenge dress. “

Anne sees her brother and is impressed by his confident demeanour. She reminds him that they’re not in the business to create rival courts. Instead, they should support the sovereign and not criticize.

Then Anne is seen in front of a group of family members. She tells them that Charles isn’t as weak as they think. He’s actually setting up his own Camelot, with advisors and a progressive agenda. He’s also showing them how a future King Of England should look, which is a tribute for those who have been overlooked.

Check back soon for our recap of episodes 6-10 of The Crown season 5, which is now streaming on Netflix.

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