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British empire monarch George V and his wife Queen Mary decide to hide their last-born son, Johnnie, from the public, being embarrassingly affected by epilepsy. While his protective elder brother is ruthlessly groomed for court life, Johnnie gets packed off to a country cottage on the royal estate Sandringham. With his full-time governess Lalla, a substitute-mother, he's abandoned to playfulness and virtual social neglect. The Great War and the Russian Revolution change life in Britain, also at court, even at Sandringham, where royal refugees are expected. Written by
The Lost Prince is a beautiful costume drama from Stephen Poliakoff, about the young brother of prince George, who nobody wanted to talk about and who was most likely autistic and most definitely epileptic, diseases respectively unknown and misunderstood at the time.
This story is roughly told through his eyes, and describes in beautiful detail the transition of Europe from a continent ruled by related monarchs (many of them Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), until the end of this system during and after WWI. As important historical events manage to find their way into palace life (the suffragette movement, the rise of ordinary people as politicians, the telephone and the motor car), they more often seem like foreign intrusions into the world of the palace.
As this is seen through the eyes of the little boy, there is very little value judgement as to whether this system was a right or just one, and at the end you are struck with the horror of the murder of the tsarist family and their beautiful daughters, but we never see the reign of terror they themselves and their secret police visited upon Russia.
There is a very funny incident when the tsarina during a visit to what she sees as her poor cousins estates, refuses to walk any further, because she has the "wrong shoes" for walking in the grass. Later, she remarks how "close" the houses of "other people" are and you can't help conclude she was simply afraid of being killed by the proletariat. :-)
Very well acted by Miranda Richardson (Blackadder), Michael Gambon, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee as the governess Lalla but especially by the two child actors who play Johnny. They look like great kids rather than brats.
Highly recommended if you can catch this on the BBC or HBO.
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