The Crown Recap: Mother Issues

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 17, 2019
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The Crown Season 3, Episode 4 - Bubbikins


The Crown Season 3, Episode 4, “Bubbikins” shows Philip’s difficult relationship with his mother and the Crown’s eagerness to change public perception.

This recap of Netflix series The Crown Season 3, Episode 4, “Bubbikins” contains significant spoilers. You can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.

It was always going to be difficult to beat the previous chapter, but Episode 4, “Bubbikins”, is still insightful in its own right. It begins in Athens, 1967 — a Christian Sisterhood needs funds for medicine, but they are running out of money.

Meanwhile, Philip is taking part in a show called Meet The Press. The Americans ask why he isn’t King in a casual joke. Philip describes how the Royal Family is going through a series of budget cuts and if there isn’t a change, they may have to move to smaller premises. On the sidelines, a journalist from The Guardian, John Armstrong, is scribbling notes for his own story.

As always, Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) sits with The Queen to provide updates — he discusses with Elizabeth regarding the recent economic meeting. There were plenty of questions about taxpayers’ money that funds the Royal Family. Harold finds himself conflicted.

Back in Athens, a Nun tries to sell a large Sapphire, but the potential buyer is cynical about where she has got it from and rings the police. The Nun turns out to be Princess Alice, Philip’s mother.

Back in England, Philip tells Princess Anne that he wants her to be part of a BBC documentary film. He briefs the family that the documentary will show the public “how real they are” and “how much they work hard”. Episode 4 indicates why the younger members of the Royal Family do so much charity work today. They have to show value.

Prime Minister Harold Wilson meets The Queen again, and describes the military coup in Greece and that her Mother-in-Law Princess Alice is in danger. Elizabeth asks Philip if they can get a plane to fly his mother back. He declines, stating the importance of the documentary and zero distractions, but she requests the flight anyway.

When Princess Alice arrives at the Palace, you can tell Philip is irked by her presence. There are visions of his childhood of his mother getting dragged away in a car. Philip becomes irritated when his mother is getting filmed. Princess Alice is old, and very slow, often puffing away at a cigarette. He’s worried about the Royal Family’s reputation. Elizabeth does wonder why Philip is angry with his mother. He responds with, “She was never a mother”.

At the halfway point, the Royal Family watch their own documentary. The next day, John Armstrong releases a negative story about the film, claiming it made them look very normal and did not change how they offer little value for money. Episode 4 sees the Royal Family in a reputational crisis.

Philip expresses his disappointment at the critical reception following the release of the documentary and asks his daughter, Princess Anne, to do an interview with The Guardian as she’s the most resistant member of the family.

When John Armstrong arrives to do the interview, Princess Anne fakes illness and pushes Princess Alice in front of him for an interview. Princess Alice describes her life; how she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and thrown into a mental asylum. The next day, the front page splashes with the story — “The Royal Saint”.

Philip finally talks to his mother after the latest newspaper interview. He reads back the story; how Princess Alice suffered electric shock treatment and went on to do formidable charity work at great personal risk. Philip apologizes to Princess Alice for his faithlessness, and she returns the apology and asks him to find himself a faith.

The Crown Season 3, Episode 4, “Bubbikins” ends with The Queen demanding that the documentary never be aired again. Philip and his mother go for a walk.

Her Majesty’s Archives (HMA)

  • Princess Alice wants funds for her Sisterhood
  • Bubbikins is what Princess Alice calls her son Philip

You can read the recap of the fifth episode by clicking these words.

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