Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Royal Affair

The recent absorbing series on BBC 4 TV of  The Killing and also The Bridge made for some absorbing viewing on Saturday nights when  British TV more generally seems geared to extending what used to be known as children's TV programmes into the later evenings.

Included in some recent birthday gifts was a token for the HMV/Curzon cinema Wimbledon. Not knowing anything about Danish history and very little more  about Denmark itself beyond the Killing and The Bridge TV series, we decided nonetheless to see the Danish film "A Royal Affair"  yesterday, which   proved to be  a beautiful absorbing although ultimately sad film.

The theme which  spans all human ages and times, was that of  misplaced love; the brief moments of ecstasy which all too soon led to disaster and death though also hope. The story which I understand is largely true was set in the 18th Century and opens with a young pretty looking princess Caroline being called from her happy looking home in England to join an apparently idiosyncratic if not nutty, young unmarried king in Denmark. She travels across the North Sea (quite why is not made plain to me though as I did A level science at school rather than any arts subjects such information is usually beyond my ken) and meets king Christian VII. The film also shows doctors queuing up to be considered for the post of personal physician to the king. His very odd child like character makes for  most medics not  progressing very far in their quests for consideration by him. Eventually King Christian manages to opt for Johann Friedrich Struensee. The latter  is portrayed as an intelligent progressive though I found his permanently negative attitude to religion irritating. Meanwhile Caroline becomes queen and her intelligence hugely contrasts with her husband's childishness.

 In the progressive 21st century Britain  where we have had a  Queen on the throne for over 60 years who seems to be becoming more and more popular with each passing year, it is difficult to see why Queen Caroline of Denmark  had  to keep her thoughts to herself and let her husband rule in his mad style. The fact that there would then grow a cabal of  people with designs on the way in which Denmark should be governed  and their own own interests seems obvious now but love began to blossom between Dr Johan and Queen Caroline and eventually her third and youngest child  is born with Dr Johan being the father. Initially that latter fact is kept secret but eventually  the secret becomes known to the Dowager and the game is up.

Caroline is banished and only allowed to keep her youngest child with Dr Johan expecting eventually to join her but he is quite dramatically executed enroute.  The exiled queen does manage to pass a letter to her two other children before her death and one is led to believe that they then in subsequent years brought Denmark back to civilisation continuing the modernisation that had been hamstrung by her affair of the heart.

A beautiful and absorbing film - one of the best I have seen for years and the subtitles did not detract at all  from becoming lost in the  the story.


  1. Hi Jerry
    Many thanks for your kind comments re the euro and Europe. I've got to the stage now that I no longer know WHAT to think! It does look now that Britain was wise not to get involved with the euro.
    The only thing I would say is that we are living in a far harsher and more unforgiving world now than we did thirty years ago and I just wonder what would lie in store for us all if the whole European idea started to unravel. I am the first to recognise that there is no enthusiasm whatsoever for Europe among the various populations and that we have only come as far as we have because of the generous provision of structural and regional funds and/or according to the country CAP subsidies, plus the immense power of inertia. My one hope is, and it's a rather bleak one, that things really do come to a head and that we all of have to decide, politicians and people alike, have to decide what we really want. I'm bound to say my brother has being saying that for a long time!

  2. Greetings Baranaby and thank you for your post.
    You raise some interesting points.

    I think that many of the countries in Europe who were conquered by the Germans or Russians during WWII
    benefit each other now and the Germans by being in the same Common Market and probably the same EU.

    The UK was obviously heavily involved in WWII but in different ways to our European friends. Also we do not have the same systems of agriculture as many of our European friends. Yet Europe concentrates so much on agriculture and at the same time decimates what used to be British fisheries.
    I would be inclined to negotiate withdrawal from the Common Market and rejoin EFTA or equivalent and/or strengthen the Commonwealth.

    We would of course stay in NATO and retain our friendship with the USA, which when the chips were down, supported the UK during the last Falklands conflict.

    I don't recall what our European friends' positions were then.

    1. I don't know how you managed to wade through my incoherent and ungrammatical comment, Jerry!
      Re the Falklands, I can't remember what the official line here in France was. Bemusement and bafflement, I should think. However, I do remember very clearly that the ordinary French people were full of admiration for the British and many of them came up to me and said they just wished their own government had the same courage and determination to stand up for their own interests.


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