“Like nuns,” adds Princess Margaret (Bel Powley).
Its May 8, 1945, VE Day in England, the biggest party London has ever seen and P1 and P2, as the princess sisters are called, want in on the action.
The slick talking Liz manages to convince Mom (Emily Watson as the Queen Mum) and Dad (Rupert Everett as King George) to let them mingle with the real people, listen to the King’s victory speech and report back. Early on they manager to dodge their chaperones, embarking on what Lizzie would later call “the most extraordinary night of my life.” The princesses get separated early on with the naïve Margaret on the prowl for fun, stumbling through an east London boozecan, a wild celebration in Trafalgar Square and a fistfight on a dance floor. “It’s all getting a bit fraught,” she says. Elizabeth, the responsible sister, spends her night trying to catch up with Margaret, aided by Jack (Jack Reynor), a cockney airman who has no idea he’s escorting royalty.
In this case truth is duller than fiction. “A Royal Night Out” is VERY loosely based on real events. In truth the princesses went out, accompanied by an entourage of 16 people and were home by curfew. The movie livens things up with a healthy dose of slapstick and gentle humour. It’s part royal rom com, part urban adventure. Imagine an English “After Hours” without the suicide, murder or treachery. Instead it’s a good-natured romp with some laughs and a splash of romantic tension. There’s no real drama—I was always quite sure Mags and Liz would be OK by the time the end credits rolled—in this slight story but Powley’s hilariously deadpan take on the clueless Margaret coupled with the charisma that pokes through Gadon’s posh demeanour makes for an enjoyable footnote of a movie about a historical footnote.