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206: A Field of Cloth of Gold

My thoughts about Part 2, Episode 6 of The Spanish Princess are too complex to be individual tweets, so here goes nothing.

I’ll start at the very beginning: the opening credits. When I saw Nada Parkes among the cast again, I squealed so hard. I literally texted my friend “OMG THEY BROUGHT ROSA BACK!”

I’ll talk about Rosa in depth later. I have to start by talking about Catherine and Harry’s daughter, Princess Mary. First of all, the girl who plays her is ADORABLE. I wasn’t expecting to see much of Mary, if the show included her at all, so it was nice to have her around throughout the episode.

Unfortunately, neither Catherine nor Harry has paid her much attention at this point. Catherine only becomes interested when the subject of Mary’s betrothal comes up. Harry wants to see her wed to the heir of France, since his sister went rogue and married Charlie Brandon, but Catherine isn’t having it. She begs Harry to reconsider her nephew Charles as a potential suitor. Harry, however, isn’t having any of that, so they sail for France anyway.

Once they’re in France, Catherine explains betrothal. Mary might not be afraid of marriage, but she doesn’t really know how to feel about her mother. That is, the lack of connection between her and Catherine is obvious. I can’t say I blame the kid though. It’s weird when a parent who has essentially ignored you for your whole life suddenly takes an interest. Nice, but still all kinds of weird.

While in France, Catherine sees Rosa again. It’s nice to see Rosa happy with a family of her own after what happened in Part 1. At first glance, Rosa looks like Frida Kahlo, which is fun. The similarity is definitely in the eyebrows.

Meanwhile, over in Scotland, Meg has, in her own words, lost her mind. She’s done with her marriage to Angus and searching for a way out of it. Georgie Henley is so good at flying off the handle and acting crazy that it’s scary. She brilliantly scares the crap out of me.

And back in England, racial tension is high. Common Londoners are out of work, and they blame immigrants for taking their jobs. This is where Bessie comes back into play. The riots are too close for comfort, so Oviedo wants to bring Lina and his twin sons, Thomas and Barnaby, to the palace where they will be safe. Lina points out that Bessie’s house is closer, so they go there instead. Bessie isn’t quiet with her politics. As soon as she welcomes Lina and Oviedo in, she starts ranting about the riots:

I suppose it’s bound to happen sooner or later. It is not the honest way of working men who know God’s order. It’s the incomers who have done this. They take the work of the Englishmen, and this is what results. The Tudors do not brook rebellion. Some heads on Tower Bridge will soon remind people of the proper order here.

Bessie’s comments made me angry, but they also highlight the current political climate throughout the world. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the writers did that intentionally. The last episode, about the bubonic plague, was probably a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Catherine and Rosa finally get a chance to talk, Catherine starts having a pity party, but Rosa shuts it down immediately:

You have given the king a strong, intelligent daughter. Your mother is Queen Isabella of Castile. Your daughter is from a line of warrior queens. Forget about some milksop English boy. Mary is your heir, your legacy. She will be the one to rule and follow you in greatness. But she needs her mother’s love to do that.

When Harry and Catherine are ready to sail home to England, Rosa gives her friend one last wake up call:

The secret to happiness is to value what you have, not yearn for what you do not. Love your daughter … and your God. Hold onto them. They are what matter. They are what will endure. Find your way back to her. To your daughter. And to yourself.

It’s clear that when Lina can’t be there, Rosa can step up to drop some truth bombs on Catherine. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

On the way home, Catherine tries to connect with Mary, to no avail. Again, I don’t blame Mary; if you’re not comfortable with someone, you’re not inclined to share things with them, even if that person happens to be your mom.

This time, Maggie Pole has the parenting pep talk ready to go:

Reggie was the same with me. He was away for so long, he did not know a mother’s love. He would not speak to me, either. But it is not too late if you work hard with her. She just needs time.

I really need to applaud Catherine’s response. She says she will give Mary time and be worthy of her. She’s not forcing herself on Mary or demanding respect just because “I’m your mother”. She knows she hasn’t been perfect, and she’s willing to put in the effort to make it up to her daughter.

The one time Catherine and Harry are on the same page about something is when they almost lose Mary in the riots. They’re both calling her name, and when they find each other in the chaos, the way they look at each other is just … it makes me want to keep shipping them even though at this point their marriage is all but officially over.

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