Netflix’s major release of the second season of “The Crown,” a lavish and brilliantly acted biography of England’s Queen Elizabeth II in her very first years of her reign, is worth every moment of your time. Writer Peter Morgan is creating a masterpiece of historical drama.
At it’s core are the conflicts that face a young woman whose father dies relatively young and has the British monarchy thrust upon her at 25. We’re witness to the parallel sacrifices of her husband, nuclear family members, and all those who serve the royal family. As her husband Prince Philip chafes under the demands of his marriage to the Crown, his roguish behavior brings increasing pain and anguish to Elizabeth. Despite the developing pressures, Elizabeth suggests a small party to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. And it is at this dinner party that Philip makes a brief speech that describes the core of marriage’s worK:
(laughter …) “Ten years has taught me,
The secret of a successful marriage is actually to have different interests.
Well, different interests, not entirely different interests. It’s a funny business.
One sees the whole of the other person. You see even that part of them that they don’t see themselves.
And presumably, they see that hidden part of you.
One ends up knowing more about one’s partner than they know about themselves.
And it can be pretty tough to keep quiet about it.
So you have to come to an accommodation, an arrangement, a deal if you like.
To take the rough with the smooth.
But the extraordinary thing is down there in the rough, in the long reeds of difficulty and pain,
that is where you find the treasure.
So I would like to propose a toast in the name of love, in the name of our beloved country, in the name of steadfastness, in the name of another ten marvelous years.
I give you mon petit chou, Lilibet, Elizabeth, The Queen.”
(The Crown, S2E4, “Beryl”; starting 19m.00s)
What brilliant insight – spoken in Philip’s voice – of the hard but joyous human work of living closely with another person, and knowing more about them than they do about themselves; and vice versa. And rather than using that knowledge as a weapon, the happiest marriages reach an accommodation, an emotional arrangement, to take both the best and worse of their partner and accept this as the wonder of what it means to be loved well by another human being. “It’s there were you find the treasure,” says Philip. Yes, indeed. This is what it really means to love another person. To know all about them, accept them, and be accepted and cherished, despite this deep knowledge, in return.
Thank you for saying it so well, Mr. Morgan. May it be so for all of us.