Saturday, 13 February 2016

Period Drama Challenge - A Royal Night Out, A Review

Another movie review for the Period Drama Challenge at Old-Fashioned Charm.

A Royal Night Out was not on my list for the challenge, but I have been wanting to see it since it hit movie theatres and it finally arrived at my library.

The movie is about the young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, and their adventures on the night of VE Day in London. This was to be their very first night ever out on their own.
Although Mummy promises they can have a night out, the Princesses find that is really just a staid outing with the lords and ladies, well guarded by two officers. So they give the officers the slip and the real night out begins.

There are some funny scenes where Princess Elizabeth, of course, has no money and no concept of how the buses work or where places are in London. She also has to use public toilets, which is a new experience!

And of course many scenes in which people speak of the royal family candidly. Lizzie is in a pub when the King's speech is broadcast, so is able to see the real people's reaction to her father.

A romantic element is introduced with the character of Jack. Lizzie meets him on a bus after being separated from Margaret and Jack spends the night reluctantly helping her find her sister.

Being the unabashed Royalist I am, I really wanted to love this movie. But it took a while to get moving for me. I only started to really enjoy it about halfway through, but by the end I loved it. Although totally and utterly unbelievable, it was still a lovely bit of royal family fun.

Casting was impeccable - all the characters were wonderful. Rupert Everett was fabulous as the King as was Emily Watson as the Queen. Understated elegant performances from both.

The two Princesses were lovely, although the plummy accents grated after a while. They looked divine - I just love everything about the 40s; the clothes, the hairstyles, the fact that everyone dressed so well.

The two officers charged with guarding the Princesses for the night were typical English officers - the stiff demeanour, the moustaches.

Princess Elizabeth's dress (on the right) was gorgeous; not so fussed on Princess Margaret's - long sleeves and fur are not for me! Not sure if this was a deliberate design choice to play her down against Elizabeth. Poor Princess Margaret - there is a scene where she introduces herself as P2, Princess Number 2. No wonder she always felt overlooked.

I loved all the scenes of the celebrations on VE night. I like to watch the interviews on DVDs and the director mentioned that they actually filmed the scenes on the 8th May, the anniversary of VE Day. So there were a lot of people already there in period costume who took part in the filming.

As to historical accuracy - well, I'm not fussed! It was just a lovely fun bit of fantasy entertainment, showing what could have possibly happened if the Princesses really had a night out. 

Obviously if you are really into accuracy, the movie would annoy you as, although it could be believable that Elizabeth may have been able to enter pubs and drink alcohol at 19 years of age, it is ludicrous to think the same of Margaret at 14. Yet in the movie, she is drinking pink gin in bawdy houses and definitely does not look 14 years old!

There is an interesting article in The Telegraph, What Happened When A Princess Went Walkabout?, that describes the actual events as related by Lord Porchester, the palace guard who actually chaperoned the Princesses on their incognito adventure that night. And he didn't give anything away! So I guess only the Queen now knows what really happened that night over 70 years ago and I can imagine she isn't telling!

Watching movies such as this does always make me wonder whether the Queen watches all these movies made about her, her father, Diana, etc. and what she thinks of them.

But if you love the era, as I do, or you love the British Royal family as I do, watch the movie for a bit of light fun and to be carried away by the sense of jubilation that existed on VE Day. I don't like crowds at all, but even I would have wanted to be at the gates of Buckingham Palace at midnight that night.


  1. It has been said in promos that it isn't historically accurate just loosely based on what may have happened when they slipped away for a few hours on VE day. When I saw it advertised I thought that it reminded me somewhat of the concept presented in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn. Now that is a movie I did enjoy for the most part.

    1. That is what the actress who played Elizabeth said in an interview - that she was drawn to doing the movie as it reminded her of Roman Holiday. Anything Audrey is always wonderful!

  2. Oh I think I will enjoy this thoroughly even though it's not an account of an historical event. I just watched the trailer; looks like a lot of fun and if the accents annoy me I can just indulge in the beautiful clothes of the time.

    1. That is just right - a bit of fun! And I love anything British.

  3. This one sounds so much fun. I'd wanted to see it in theaters, but never had the chance! Now I'll have to see if my library has it. If not, there's always an Amazon rental!