King George VI (Jared Harris) is in bad health. He is coughing up blood in toilet. Princess Elizabeth (Claire Foy) waits alone in a nearby room while Prince Philip (Matt Smith) of Greece and Denmark renounces his foreign titles to become Philip Mountbatten, royal navy. He is promptly knighted and named Duke of Edinburgh by the King. The ceremony breaks up and he goes out to talk to Elizabeth.
Philip is reluctant about all of the responsibilities and feels as though he has signed himself away. He smokes, which Elizabeth hates, while telling her all this. She comments that he still has until tomorrow but he tells her that’s not the case. After all that pomp and circumstance it’s a done deal. She tells him that he got “the greatest prize of all.” He says that some might think that. She looks upset before he adds that he does as well. He heads out telling her to get some sleep and she tells him to do the same but considering it’s a navy officer’s stag night he doubts that will be the case.
George is getting ready for the day and questions his footmen about the blood in his spittle the morning prior. One comments that it might just be due to the cold weather. He finishes getting ready and heads downstairs where he is greeted by his wife and
Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) and his wife Clementine, (Harriet Walter) arrive for the ceremony. He makes sure to garner a fair bit of attention on his arrival. Elizabeth, escorted down the aisle by her father, finally makes her way to the altar.
Philip and Elizabeth exchange vows while Churchill grumbles in the wings about his family being associated with Nazis. The line “love, cherish and obey” was included at her request, according to Churchill.
During the photo op, other members of the royal family discuss how opposed everyone was of this wedding. They are all there though. Some think that Elizabeth is being overestimated but at least one things it is just the opposite.
Photos show the family as they grow together. The birth of Princess Anne and Prince Charles as well as family holidays.
The family is away and celebrating Philip’s change in rank in the navy when they receive a call from London. George has gone into surgery. He’s not doing well. They rush back to the palace to wait with the Queen and the rest of the family. A doctor comes out to let them know he is doing well. Philip wanders in and looks at the King lying there unconscious while nurses clean up.
Churchill wins another term and is celebrated throughout the city. George is pleased when he hears the news as well. Churchill reports to work and is eating while his doctor takes his blood pressure. He also has the doctor look at some medical records. It seems as though the patient in question had “lung alterations” but Churchill won’t say who it is.
George recognizes his election victory and invites him to form a government in the name of the monarchy. Churchill accepts the honor before they break formalities and start to talk more normally. They discuss their weekly chats as well as George’s surgery. He also says that Elizabeth will be taking over duties at the House of Commons. Churchill is caught off guard by this but George says it is a way to get her ready for the future, the distant future.
The Churchills move back into 10 Downing St. He tells her that the king was wearing makeup and that it seems to be cancer. Over lunch he admits that he has considered resigning but the party needs him and the country needs him, as well as her. His wife asks who? and he responds her. Then she knows who he means.
At Clarence House Philip and the kids are watching the workers and messing around with a radio device when Elizabeth arrives. She’s on her way to breakfast with her mother and sister. He’s staying behind to pick out curtain fabrics.
Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) is summoned by the Queen (Victoria Hamilton) side to confirm that the King will be well enough to travel for the holidays. When he says that he thinks it will do him good Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) asks if he will be joining them as well. The Queen thinks he should stay with his family but Margaret presses, for the sake of her father. The Queen relents and Peter agrees. Once they both leave the room, Elizabeth calls her on the “looks” she and Peter were exchanging. Margaret tells her not to tell anyone.
George has called on his doctor to talk about the return of his coughing fits. The doctor tells him that they removed a malignant tumor as well as one lung but there was still damage left. The doctor says that he wanted to tell him immediately but was overruled. The only ones that know are the surgeons and perhaps the prime minister. He says that he might live years but months is more likely.
The family goes into the country for Christmas and local carollers are brought in for the celebration. They present him with a gift, a homemade crown, which he puts on before joining them for the carols. The next day he brings Elizabeth into his office and chats with her about duties and the importance of sharing it with someone special. He asks about Philip and then says he should make an effort there. Elizabeth suggests taking him shooting. George then asks her if they would go on the Commonwealth tour for him, due to his health.
Elizabeth asks Philip and he is opposed. He has duties to the kids and as a naval officer and this tour would take them away for months on end. She asks him again and explains how important it is to her. He relents.
The next morning George wakes Philip to go duck hunting. Once they are alone, George tells Philip that Elizabeth is his job. He needs to love her and by doing that he is doing a service to his country and his King. At the house, Elizabeth goes into the office and sits in her father’s seat while he is out in a boat duck hunting with a hacking cough.
I thought this was pretty interesting. I was looking forward to this show and though it is not very fast paced I liked it a lot and the hour flew by. I admittedly don’t know a lot about the now Queen Elizabeth or her marriage to Philip so finding out he was so reluctant to perform the duties that come with being a royal surprised me a bit.