How Wagner’s Liebestod Explores Love In Different Stages in ‘The Crown, Season 1: Episode 3’

“Love. It is the greatest thing on Earth.”

So says former King Edward to Winston Churchill near the end of the third Episode of “The Crown” as he defends his marriage and how it altered his position within the Royal Family.

No sooner has he uttered these words that we hear a woodwind downbeat commencing the Liebestod from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde.” Arguably the most yearning of Wagner’s music takes charge of an exquisite montage that brings together the three central romantic relationships at the core of this particular episode.

As the instrumental version of the Liebestod takes charge the camera cuts from a wide shot between the two men in a darkly lit room, to a flowing shot inside a silhouetted room, the sun’s light shining through the window to create a romantic buzz from the lens flares. In the centre of the image are two figures dancing, Edward and Wallis. To this point, Edward, who is making his first appearance in the series, has been locked in emotional combat with the rest of his family over his marriage to Wallace, a divorcee; he was once the King and was forced to abdicate to avoid scandal. But he holds strong to his love for her throughout the episode, defending it to the last.

After a series of images of their love, the film cuts to a shot following Princess Margaret as she heads to Peter Townsend’s office. Earlier in the episode, she was forced to hide in his office while Phillip went to consult with his flight instructor. Their relationship has been a game of hide and seek throughout, a portrayal of playful and suspenseful desire that she adds fuel to when she walks in, accompanied by Wagner’s blossoming score, and gives him a passionate kiss. Then she walks out.

From there, the montage shifts focus to the central couple of the episode – Elizabeth and Philip, both heading to the opera, presumably to see “Tristan und Isolde.” Full Story.