The Crown – Season 5 Episode 1 “Queen Victoria Syndrome” Recap & Review

Queen Victoria Syndrome

Season 5 of The Crown begins with a flashback to Claire Foy, the one who started it all. The archival clip is in black and white and it shows how the Queen launched her Royal Yacht named Britannia when she was just a young woman.

The scene then switches to the show’s current timeline and Elizabeth is seen undergoing a medical examination. Although she is asked to spend fewer hours standing, Elizabeth is more anxious concerning her weight. Prince Charles is ecstatic that he is receiving positive press at the moment, and they suggest that he take Princess Diana on “a second honeymoon” to demonstrate the strength of their union to the public.

Charles and Diana head off on vacation on a luxurious yacht while the Queen and Philip sail north on Britannia. When Charles, Diana, and their sons reach Italy, they are greeted by a thrilled crowd as well as a frenzied press. They wave in their direction and give the people exactly what they want. Diana prefers to shop, whereas Charles wants to explore historic sites. Their kids can tell that they are genuinely unhappy together.

The Royal Family is concerned that Her Majesty might read the most recent article in The Sunday Times and learn that it is critical of her. A print of the newspaper almost made it to Princess Anne, but it was promptly taken away. The argument (poll) in the newspaper is that the Queen should hand over the crown to Prince Charles. Charles gets to read it afterward and gets hopeful; he orders his staff member to schedule a meeting with John Major who was the prime minister at the time.

Their second honeymoon is cut short after Diana finds out about a “diary conflict”. Diana gets upset and fears that it is her family’s vacation. Charles confronts her, but he’s more focused on his work. Diana’s sons, who are the one bright spot in her marriage, seem to provide her solace.

When Charles meets with Prime Minister John Major, he praises him and then suggests that his ideas and expertise are wasted while discussing the poll and the comparison of Queen Elizabeth’s reign with “Queen Victoria Syndrome” in the issue of the Sunday Times. John says that poll results “come and go”. Furthermore, Charles asks John to think about whether or not The Crown is in good hands.

Elizabeth questions a staff about why everyone is treating her strangely. The news from The Sunday Times is finally revealed to the Queen. As Elizabeth starts reading the poll’s content, she exhibits a sudden lack of confidence as she glances over the words “irrelevant” as well as “Queen Victoria Syndrome.” The incident implies that the nation is worn out by Queen Elizabeth II’s prolonged reign because the phrase “Queen Victoria Syndrome” indicates the public growing weary of an aged ruler.

Elizabeth and the Prime Minister have a meeting at Balmoral Castle. As per John Major, repairing a yacht is a “luxury”, and the authorities cannot be perceived using taxpayer funds as such. Elizabeth tells him she has a special bond with her yacht because it is the one possession she owns that she did not inherit. She requests confirmation that the repairs will be completed.

The Royal Family, various guests, as well as the Prime Minister attend the Ghillies Ball held at Balmoral Castle. John Major is lectured by Philip for his position on the Royal Yacht. The prime minister however clearly has his conversation with Charles running through his mind. While he is discussing the yacht with John, Charles mentions how expensive it will be to repair it and refers to it as being extremely old.

Diana tells John Major about her union with Charles and how if their marriage fails, the system as a whole could collapse. The senior members of the Royal Family are described as “deluded” and “out of touch” by John Major to his wife later on, and he questions whether an uprising will occur under his administration.

As the episode closes out, Elizabeth appears to look at a portrait of the late Queen Victoria with emptiness.

The Episode Review

In this episode, the subjects are strongly laid forth. Charles is secretly plotting to dethrone the Queen by promising to modernize the kingdom, Charles and Diana’s troubled marriage and the fall of the monarchy are some of the key themes addressed.

As usual, The Crown plays around with symbolism and leaves you with a lot to take into account. Her Majesty is seen taking immense pride in the yacht. The yacht is a metaphor for discovery, power, and disaster. We are aware of the British Monarchy’s history of discovery as well as the onset of its collapse. Creative symbolism is used in the scenes showing the onset of the British Monarchy’s declining trend.

While cruising north on the Yacht, Philip talks to Queen Elizabeth about the Yacht and how it is falling apart. He informs her that while they “sentimentally” wish to stick with “her”, they must also be realistic and weigh her “costs” to them because she is clearly past her best.

He claims that this is the first time he has considered the unimaginable, that is “replacement”. We can’t help but draw a parallel to Diana and her relationship with Charles here, especially considering the exaggeration of the importance of the subject.

Philip refers to the Yacht as “she”; she being Diana. Diana and Charles’ relationship is falling apart. The Royal Family are conservatives in action, so they want them to continue their marriage, yet knowing how destructive their relationship is, being in the marriage might – and eventually did – cost the Royal Family a lot. In addition, he discusses replacing Diana with Camilla once Charles and Diana divorce.

As the staff race to remove the Sunday Times newspaper off the Queen’s table, there is a dash of lighthearted humor. The Crown helps us recall that the Queen wasn’t always well-liked by her subjects by providing a window into historical events in this regard.

Although Dominic West has nailed Charles’ expressions, sadly, he hasn’t put much effort into the accent aspect. With her depiction of the emotional sequences, her side head tilt, and her grace, Elizabeth Debicki shines in her portrayal of Diana.

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3 thoughts on “The Crown – Season 5 Episode 1 “Queen Victoria Syndrome” Recap & Review”

  1. My wife and I thought this episode fell a bit flat, and that the casting of the actors didn’t help. Somehow this episode didn’t live up to our expectations, parricularly as we were looking forward to the beginning of a new season of episodes. Hopefully, we will hope it moves on and improves.

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