The Crown Recap: Midlife Crisis

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 17, 2019
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Netflix series The Crown Season 3, Episode 7 - Moon Dust


The Crown Season 3, Episode 7, “Moon Dust” reveals a Philip enduring a midlife crisis during a historic moment — the first moon landing.

This recap of Netflix series The Crown Season 3, Episode 7, “Moon Dust” contains significant spoilers. You can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.

Episode 7, “Moon Dust” tells the tale of a man that is enduring a midlife crisis. Reeking in privilege, yet imprisoned by his duty, we get a brilliant chapter on the Duke of Edinburgh Philip, played formidably by Tobias Menzies.

It’s the 5th of July 1969 and NASA are preparing for the famous first moon landing. Philip watches the press conference on TV, and The Queen makes it known that she has left the astronauts a message wishing them luck.

The next day Philip and Elizabeth go to church. You can sense the irritation on his face and in his demeanour. Something is bugging him. He asks his wife why she likes church, and states he could be doing something more useful. The current Dean is old and frail, and The Queen asks if a new Dean could replace him in the aftermath of Philip’s complaints.

Episode 7 then shoots forward to the 16th of July 1969. The Royal Family watch the launch together. Philip is sat in deep thought, mesmerized by the rocket launch, hushing those around him so he can concentrate on the black and white television. Episode 7, “Moon Dust”, shows a Duke of Edinburgh in a moment of wonder.

The next day, Philip is clearly frustrated by his schedule and he is forced to meet the new Dean — Robin Woods. The new Dean requests if he can use one of the empty houses on-site for priests who need to recharge and reflect. Philip accepts the request but calls Robin’s plans flawed.

And then the moon landing day arrives; Philip gathers his family and tells everyone to hush. He is thrilled by the landing, his gaze never leaving the screen. There’s a small moment where The Queen looks at him briefly and smiles. Philip stays up and continues to watch the moon landing and begins crying; I believe at this moment he is so overawed by the sense of achievement that he is compounded by regret.

Philip’s midlife crisis continues; the next day he carries out his royal duties. While on a plane, he looks at the moon and asks the pilot if he can take control. He irrationally increases altitude despite the pilot’s warnings. He takes in the view with the moon right in front of him.

Interestingly, Philip stops attending Church and goes for a run instead. Dean Robin Woods decides to speak to him and requests that he meets the priests. In the meeting, the priests self-reflect about their life, but Philip calls their thoughts “pretentious self-pity nonsense” and states the best thing to do is to enter the world and make a mark “just like those astronauts did”. He immediately walks out on the shocked group of priests.

In a turn of events in Episode 7, The Queen asks Philip if he would like an audience with the astronauts and when he eagerly accepts she says, “I thought that would cheer you up”. He requests if he can have a private discussion with the three men and they agree to 15 minutes.

The astronauts arrive (Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin) and Philip holds the private discussion. He notices they all have colds due to the bad weather in England. Philip tries to engage with the men, talking about an evaluation of his own life and confessing he hasn’t achieved what he would like to do. He praises the astronauts for their achievement, claiming it was like watching a dream and then he asks the questions: “\what were your thoughts out there?” and “What were your perspectives and observations?”. You can tell with the responses he got from the men that it was not at all what he expected. Philip is disappointed.

Later in the day, he confides with Elizabeth about his experience with the astronauts. Philip expected them to be Gods, but he felt they were three little men with pale faces and colds. He describes the discussion as entirely anti-climatic and lacking originality. The Queen claims that with the attention they will get for the rest of their lives, when they are oddly normal, means they deserve our pity. I enjoyed this moment — it was almost like Philip realized that putting other people’s achievements on a pedestal can cause an internal vicious cycle that is immeasurable. He understood at this moment that he needs to gauge his perspective.

The Crown Season 3, Episode 7, “Moon Dust” ends with Philip speaking to the Dean and the priests again. He opens up about his recent irritations, which are more often than usual. He opens up about his mother questioning his lack of faith. Philip admits to the priests in the room that he has lost all faith, and in his desperation, he asks for help.

Her Majesty’s Archives (HMA)

  • Prince Philip and Dean Robin Woods became lifelong friends.
  • For over 50 years St George’s House has been a Centre for the exploration of faith and philosophy — the house that the Dean asked for at the start of Episode 7. Its success is one of the achievements of which Prince Philip is most proud.

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

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