History has a way of taking you back. It shows the mirror and tells nothing but the truth. Centuries later, Queen Elizabeth brings up the subject of Ipatiev House, a memory or memory of the story being told to Elizabeth when she was young, and ever since has been etched in her mind. “The Crown” Season 5, Episode 6 titled, “Ipatiev House,” revolves around the home that sheltered the last of the Romanovs who were mercilessly murdered by the Bolsheviks revolutionaries, post the rise of Lenin, and the world saw the end of the Great War. But how are the Romanovs and the Windsors related? How does Philip fit in this picture?
History Of The Romanovs, Windsor, And Prince Philip
The sixth episode of “The Crown” Season 5 highlights the history the house Windsor shared with the House of the infamous Romanovs. Philip, though, also comes into the picture, making us wonder how exactly these families are connected. Queen Victoria was known as the “grandmother of Europe,” for she had a lot of children and grandchildren who were married into royal families from all around Europe. Through this, Elizabeth and Philip were technically distant cousins; Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V, was the first cousin to Nicholas II of Russia. The connections between the current royals of Europe date to the legacy of Queen Victoria. The Windsors and the Romanovs had a deep connection that was tested during the First World War, and the Windsors subsequently did not live up to their promises.
Elizabeth, since the political changes in Russia, is keen on hosting Russian President Boris Yeltsin and vice versa. Elizabeth, though, puts across a condition of burying the Romanovs with the utmost dignity because of her family’s connection to them. She believes their deaths at the hands of the revolutionaries were uncalled for, plus they were buried in the forest just outside the makeshift home called the “Ipatiev House.” Ipatiev House was subsequently demolished by the same president who was keen on hosting her majesty, the Queen. Boris Yeltsin goes out of his way to exhume the bodies of the Romanovs and carry out advanced DNA tests on them. To confirm if the bones belong to the Romanovs, the Russians request the DNA of Prince Philip, for he is related to the Romanovs from his mother’s side. Philip’s maternal grandmother was the sister of Tsarina Alexandra, and hence his DNA would be essential in finding out whether the remains were of the Romanovs or not. Philip is excited to find a connection from the past to his family, just like Elizabeth. Both were very curious to explore the Romanov family history and their connection to it, for it takes them back in time. They find it fascinating how two large royal families were once close. One sustained, while the other decimated by a mob of angry men. While Philip sternly believes it was one family that was indirectly responsible for the murder of the Tsar and his family, Elizabeth acts clueless about the information; she knows what Philip is implying.
Philip and his sense of Nostalgia and Existential Crisis
Philip and Elizabeth love the shared history of their families. As the show progresses, Elizabeth notices the kind of indulgence Philip is taking part in, and he is happy to be a part of the group. The aging Philip finds it difficult to be around the palace for longer periods of time. He finds solace in carriage driving, which keeps him occupied and brings him joy and a sense of purpose, which he thinks he is lacking at this age. Philip forms a friendship with Penny Knatchbull, who is drawn to carriage driving thanks to Philip, and he helps her overcome a personal tragedy. Soon, this turns into a friendship where Philip spends more time with her talking about world affairs and finds a connection that he seems to be losing with Elizabeth. Philip had an illustrious career in the Navy, which he had to give up so that he could be the Queen Consort and spend his life two steps behind her, which he gladly took upon. Philip, who comes from a royal family as well, understands the importance of a consort and the purpose they serve. Philip, though he misses his life in the Navy, starts indulging in flying and playing polo, and he briefly explores the idea of spiritualism after his mother’s passing. Philip is nearing the 7th decade of his life, and he starts realizing that he cannot become obsolete. His passion for being active all the time brings him closer to the state visit that Elizabeth is about to make to Russia.
Elizabeth is keen on visiting Russia as a part of restoring diplomatic ties and the subsequent burial of the Romanovs. Elizabeth is made aware through Prime Minister John Majors that the Russian team of archaeologists and scientists will require Philip’s DNA to confirm if the bones belong to the Romanovs or not. Philip is related to the Romanovs from his mother’s side and is surprised to know he could be useful in making such revelations. Once the DNA sample is sent, Philip is in awe of what science is capable of, and soon he discusses the same with Penny. Penny helps him understand how crucial it is for him to know about his extended family, which he could never stay in touch with thanks to the constant political turmoil between the countries of England and Russia. Philip is thoroughly fascinated to have come across various books that describe the family tree of his newfound deceased family, the Romanovs. His connection to them makes him read every book in the libraries of Buckingham Palace as well as Windsor Castle. Philip somehow feels connected after knowing he is a legacy of the Romanovs. Philip soon realizes there is indeed more to do in life than to give up so quickly. The Romanovs went out in an ugly fashion, but Philip will make sure his life so far and then on will have a purpose, which will leave behind a legacy many will talk about. Philip is going through something which everyone calls an existential crisis. Philip starts believing in things around him since the revelation of DNA matching; he starts hoping he is indeed not irrelevant anymore. The trip to Russia comes at a time when Philip takes it upon himself to explore Russia the way he wants to. Elizabeth also realizes that their Russia trip did not go as planned, for Philip spent most of his time on his own exploring the country, while Elizabeth’s purpose of visiting Russia is to attend the burial of the Romanovs is thwarted as they are informed that one of the bones they found, the scientists are yet to confirm who’s it is. Philip, though, is content with the Russian trip, for he was able to just explore the roots of the family he belongs to. Philip now feels he has a lot left in him to do before his body gives up. Age cannot stop him from following his passions. Elizabeth realizes she cannot stop Philip or force him to be with her; he needs to find his standing even at this age, for just like her, they don’t have many years to give themselves or each other.
Queen Elizabeth’s Theory vs. Penny Knatchbull’s Theory
Philip puts across a proposition to Elizabeth about Penny Knatchbull, who, just like Philip, is a highly well-read woman who enjoys conversation about world affairs and indulges in books. Elizabeth, on meeting Penny, quickly asks about her thoughts on Queen Mary and her connection to the killings of the Romanovs. Elizabeth hears this information from Philip, who believes her family might have been indirectly responsible for eradicating the Romanovs, which infuriates Elizabeth. Penny says that she has come across various books and sources that directly point towards the fact that Mary was not keen on providing asylum to the Tsar, Tsarina, and their family in England. Though King George V was keen on providing his cousin shelter in times of hostility, Mary made it clear why it would be wrong to do that. Elizabeth is given information through the archives at Windsor Castle itself, which contain a personal diary maintained by the young King Edward in which he mentions how his mother was not keen on sheltering the Romanovs in their homeland. Penny believes that Queen Mary and Tsarina Alexandra had a rivalry growing up for King George’s first choice of bride was Alexandra, but she rejected him and chose to marry Nicholas II of Russia. Mary believed bringing Tsarina Alexandra back to England would lead to a resurfacing of the rivalry, which would lead to favoritism in the court, and that is the reason why Queen Mary did not intend to help the Romanovs leave Russia.
Queen Elizabeth is quite impressed with the research Penny has done on this subject; she acknowledges the hard work put in by her and shows interest in her family’s history. Elizabeth, though, contradicts her theory and puts across the fact that Tsarina was a part of the German royal family. Since the first world war was looming over Europe, Tsarina had sided with England’s rival in the war, Germany. Along with that, the Russian royals, aristocrats, and oligarchs were just overthrown by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin. Queen Mary was worried that sheltering the Romanovs would also encourage socialists in England to revolt and take up arms against England’s monarchy. Mary did not want to risk that for the sake of her family and the monarchy and decided against sheltering the Romanovs. Subsequently, the English royal family had to change the name of their house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor to not encourage any anti-German sentiments against their family. Elizabeth was proud of the fact that her grandmother, Queen Mary, was the true judge of the situation and chose duty over everything else, which is the basis of Elizabeth’s rule on how to govern. Elizabeth is excited to have come across such a colorful yet mournful history of her family, which will stay forever for everyone to read and debate over for years to come.
“Ipatiev House” mirrored episode 9 of “The Crown” season 2’s “Paterfamilias,” where Philip revisits his school days, his life as a young teen from a scattered royal family of Greece, and his life growing up as a nomad, traveling from country to country and finally settling down in England. Philip has a strong connection to his past, and he knows why revolutions take place to eventually overthrow the monarchs. The Russian connection, along with his own family’s connection to families ravaged by revolutionaries, makes him sympathetic and emotional. Philip’s sense of sentimentality brings him closer to Russia than anybody else, including his wife, Elizabeth. “Ipatiev House” had something for everyone. History, recollection, nostalgia, emotions, and zero regrets.
See More: ‘The Crown’ Season 5: Ending, Explained – What Was The Conflict Between Queen Elizabeth And Prince Charles?