May 2019 Club
Queen’s Surprise Club – The Queen
The film begins just after Tony Blair wins the general election and is preparing for the formality of an audience with the Queen where she will ask him to form the new government.
Three months later, while the Royal Family are at their Scottish residence, Balmoral, Diana is killed in a car crash in Paris. The Queen is immediately in disagreement with Prince Charles over how the death should be treated, although Prince Philip and the Queen Mother are in agreement with her that it is a “private affair”. The rest of the film is a contrast between the Royal Family’s very private activities at Balmoral, centred around helping the young Princes William and Harry deal with the loss of their mother, and the very public outpouring of grief over the death of Diana. The bridge between the two is Tony Blair who is very quick to grasp how the event has affected the public and tries to guide the Queen, although without much success, until the papers’ call for a response from the Royal Family can no longer be ignored. Against tradition, the union flag was flown at half mast over Buckingham Palace and the Queen returns from Scotland to view the flowers and meet mourners.
Sometime after the funeral, the Queen is heard to tell Tony Blair that she believes the reputation of the Royal Family with never fully recover from “that week”.
This was an interesting film for me to watch as it’s based on historical events I remember. I was 17 at the time and recall seeing the vast numbers of floral tributes left around the country although I was less aware of the feelings towards the Royal Family and their actions. I don’t know how close to the truth Peter Morgan’s script is, but its very well written with touches of humour that lift the film. Although it only won the one Oscar, it lost out on best picture to “The Departed”, it was awarded the Golden Globe for best screenplay and the BAFTA for best film as well as Helen Mirren winning Best Actress in all three and several other awards as well. The acting is superb, not just Helen Mirren’s portrayal of the Queen, but Michael Sheen’s Tony Blair and Sylvia Syms’s Queen Mother. I enjoyed this film more than I expected to.
For this first club I have chosen Flockly as the base. Not only is it my favourite base to work with, its blend of 70% Bluefaced Leicester, 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere is a mix of the rustic woolliness of Scottish Tweed and the glamour of silk and cashmere.
Kensington – I very quickly decided on the effect I wanted from the variegated colourway, the impression of vast drifts of flower tributes left for Princess Diana outside Kensington Palace which matches the memories I have of the time. You never see what the flowers are and you can’t tell one bouquet from the next, you just get hints of shapes. I started with a white base and tightly sprinkled several shades of green, with a touch of bright yellow, pink and dark red.
Balmoral – The semi-solid took me longer to decide on. I wanted a contrast with the variegated, in the same way the Royal Family’s private estate at Balmoral contrasts with the public grief in London, so I started with thinking about the colours associated with the parts of the film set in Scotland. I considered a bright green from the tartan or the rich red-brown of the stag but eventually decided on the green of the Scottish Moorland in the sunshine which was obviously where the Queen felt most comfortable. It also tones nicely with the variegated showing that the two can work together in the end.