Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Duke of Windsor, The Crown, and Looking at the Bright Side of Life

The Duke of Windsor with a ciggie and two Cartier Trinity rings.

To get away from the election and post-election coverage I decided to start watching the new series The Crown on Netflix. I am enjoying it immensely. It has such high production values and great acting. What a visual treat too—the sets, the scenery, the costumes, the jewelry, and the makeup, my God, the makeup!

I have seen three episodes, including “Windsor,” which had all sorts of inaccuracies regarding the Duke and Duchess of Windsor—for one, Wallis was not present when David gave his famous “Abdication” speech on December 11, 1936, nor was his mother, Queen Mary. David and Wallis were portrayed in this episode with the negative patina they nearly always receive on screen, which wasn’t much of a surprise, since the focus in this series is on Queen Elizabeth II and how she came to be the Queen of England, and her branch of the family despised them. However, it reminded me of some of the posts I’ve done on the Duke and Duchess, which I loved putting together, so I couldn’t help returning to this subject.

Before we get to that I have to share this shot from the show. Of course, if the spiffy dress didn’t give it away, the pugs would. Here is how the Duke and Duchess of Windsor are portrayed in The Crown. This is an urelated side note but I love that baby pug so much, the one nestled in Lia’s arm. That face! Those eyes! I have not seen what happens in this episode so if you know, don’t tell me!

Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor and Lia Williams as the Duchess. Photo by Netflix.

Today’s topic is the Duke of Windsor’s disposition and notes on his character that the Duchess of Windsor wrote about in her 1956 memoir, The Heart Has Its Reasons. I loved this gem:

“Aside from his blithe assumption that the logistics of life would take care of themselves, I discovered that David had endearing qualities that were rare in my experience. There was not a mean bone in his body or a snide thought in his mind. Gossip rolled off him like rain off a slate roof; he never allowed gossip to warp his healthy faith in human nature. He had an extraordinary resiliency of the spirit.”

The Duke and Duchess with their pugs Trooper, Disraeli, Imp, and Davy Crockett.

And this:

“…along with the thriftiness and conservatism that were so innately a part of David’s inheritance went an extraordinary outgivingness and trust in those about him. I came to realize that this was an expression of his sunny disposition, his difficulty in bringing himself to believe ill of anyone. Perhaps, at a critical time for him, this quality was his salvation; believing, as he does, that all human experience should be a challenge, it was impossible for him ever to think that any change in circumstances could be a defeat.”

That last part seems particularly timely given the state of world politics. And how interesting to learn that the Duke thought life should be a challenge!

The Duke with his mother Queen Mary in October 1945. Getty Images photo.

I know plenty of people have a bad opinion of the Duke of Windsor but I have been cheered by re-reading these words about how somebody decided to Stay Positive even when (especially when!), the going got tough.

Let me know if you are watching The Crown and what you think of it.


Suzanne Carillo said...

As a fellow pug Mom I cannot wait to see this episode.

I love that photo!

I have been watching The Crown but have found it slow going. Some of the tedious rules and regulations of upper English society bring back too many memories, not all of them fond of my time living and working there.


Jill said...

Hi Suzanne, I can't wait to see the episode with the pugs. That tiny one is just the most adorable pooch! I hear ya re the slow going with 'The Crown.' I find it interesting even when it's like that but part of me is also thinking that I bet some people think it's boring. Which is why I think the writers decided to have the Duke play a semi-bad guy, with his wheeling and dealing in the "Windsor" episode. What you said about the rules of English society are actually one of the reasons I think David fell for Wallis, she must have been like a breath of fresh air for him! xx

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Hi Jill, I finished the crown. Yes it was very good. I might temper my comment bc people seem to lose their minds when you say anything other than something adulatory towards the royal family. But I will pick up on the point about where you mentioned some things weren't factual and there for dramatic purposes. But of course people forget this. History is definitely slanted by who is the winner and loser and to this day, if you are pro windsor then the family baggage of the queen mother is that you are against them. My theory along with a few others is that the queen mum was in love with him originally but she just wasn't his type. While it was beautifully shot and acted, I found it to be an elaborate PR exercise to prolong the monarchy especially as the popularity of Will is not as great as you might suspect over here and that is seen with a young pretty wife and two sweet toddlers. But the royal family is a sign of stability especially during difficult political times so it continues. I hope you finish it and see what you think about the windsor portrayals xx

Rosie said...

Hi jill

Luv "The Crown". The production is Netflix's most expensive & looks it. The acting is just great. Particularly Claire Foy as the Queen, Alex Jennings as the Duke of Windsor & John Lithgow as Churchill. The story of Princess Margaret was so sad, because she couldn't marry the man she truly loved. She always seemed unhappy even when she did marry someone else. Apparently her marriage was a disaster.

There were always so many truths, half-truths, lies & rumours about the Duke & Duchess. Particularly the one about their sympathy for the Nazis. Perhaps, his abdication was a blessing in disguise for England. King George & his young family were what England needed during WWII. A steady hand.

Its amazing the the Duke & Duchess still fascinate after all these many years.