The Palace - Monday 14 January

The Palace
Monday 14 January 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm on ITV1.

As Richard, Eleanor and George prepare for a rather boring night at the opera with the rest of the Royal Family, they are given a last minute reprieve by Richard’s Assistant Private Secretary, Abigail Thomas, who has created a fictional charity engagement to allow the boys to sneak to a nightclub.

As Richard and George chat up two girls in the club Pete Bayfield, Richard’s Personal Protection Officer, takes a call. King James is dead. Richard is King. A stunned Richard is driven back to the Palace where he is told of his immediate duties, of the Prime Minister’s arrival to pledge allegiance and the Heads of States waiting to speak to him. Richard ducks into a toilet for a moment and slips to the floor in shock, the weight of responsibility hitting him hard. As Princess Eleanor, Prince George, Princess Isabelle and Queen Charlotte wait for Richard, they snipe at each other. When Eleanor expresses concern that Richard isn’t up to the job, Charlotte reminds her that she’ll have to get used to having second billing to her brother from now on.

Back in Eleanor’s rooms, Major Simon Brooks, her Private Secretary, assures her that she’d be far more suitable as the new Monarch. Not only is she the eldest child, but she is far more professional and dutiful than Richard. Eleanor reminds him that she could never be seen to do anything that would hurt her brother. The implication is clear.

As Richard finds it increasingly difficult to deal with both the pressure of his duties and his grief over his father’s death, he phones a mystery woman, asking her to come to the Palace. Meanwhile, Abigail is caught in the corridor by a flirtatious Simon, who asks her out. She suggests he’s only interested in her because of her elevated position, but still flirts back before leaving the Palace to meet someone else. It is a publisher she meets in a bar that night. Abigail has been commissioned to write a tell-all book on the Prince of Wales – which is suddenly vastly more valuable as that Prince is now King.

Meanwhile, Richard is being reassured by his beautiful lover Miranda that he will make a great Monarch. She sits him on his throne and kisses him, just as Jimmy, a footman taking a shortcut back to his quarters, sees the kissing couple and rushes below stairs with the gossip. The next day, Chinese whispers gather pace and the details become more and more lurid. Eventually Jonty, the Palace Press Secretary, tells Abigail that an insider has gone to a major tabloid with a story about Richard having sex on the throne, which they are threatening to publish. Richard denies the extravagant claim to the team, but admits he was with a woman whose identity he refuses to reveal.

After returning from his father’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, Richard bursts into Sir Iain Ratalick, his Private Secretary’s, room with a plan. To show the public his true colours, he’ll give a live TV interview. The plan meets with disapproval/horror from all his advisors, but it is one he is adamant to carry out.

The PM arrives, accompanied by his own Press Secretary. It’s Miranda, the woman last seen kissing Richard on the throne. Both warn Sir Iain and Abigail not to let the King do the interview, especially as the interviewer is notoriously outspoken and merciless. But it is too late. The King has made up his mind.

As the live interview begins, Richard initially deflects the hard line of questioning with easy charm. Only when he is questioned on his whereabouts on the night of his father’s death – Simon phones the secret about the nightclub through to the producer as they speak – does he falter. His temper and honesty eventually get the better of him and Richard shows more of himself than a King should ever do. His advisors cringe but his honesty impresses his ruthless opponent.

After the interview, Eleanor greets her brother with congratulations. But as she and Simon walk away, Simon reassures her that their campaign against the fledgling King is just beginning. Eleanor tells her aide to get closer to Abigail to help their cause.

Richard returns to his father’s empty apartments. Finally, he is able to let out the frustrations and grief he feels for his father’s death and, alone, he bursts into tears.

Later that night, Richard visits his brother and their friends, but no longer fancies joining in the drinking games and joking around. Too much has changed. He embraces George and leaves them to it, walking away with a smile on his face. Onto new adventures.

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