When World War II ended in Europe on May 8, 1945, a spontaneous city-wide street celebration erupted throughout London. As King George VI (Rupert Everett) prepares to address his loyal subjects, restless teenage Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret yearn to escape from the protocol of Buckingham Palace for one madcap evening and mingle incognito among the jubilant crowd. Read on…
Although the stern Queen Mother (Emily Watson) objects, Elizabeth, nicknamed Lilibet by the Windsor family, persuades their weary father, egged on by P2 (as in Princess Two), as fun-loving Margaret is known, to permit them to spend the exciting evening at The Ritz.
Dressed in pale pink chiffon evening gowns, the effervescent Princesses quickly manage to evade their dim-witted, easily distracted military escorts (Jack Laskey, Jack Gordon).
Eager to explore the fabled Curzon Club in Mayfair, do the Lindy Hop and attend an “all-nighter” at the Chelsea Barracks, mischievous Margaret hops on a bus to Trafalgar Square. Dutifully determined to find her sister, Lilibet follows, only to realize she has no money to pay the fare.
That’s just the first time naïve Lilibet is gallantly rescued by a cynical Royal Air Force pilot (Jack Reynor), who seriously doubts that victory will change anything about Britain’s class-riddled society. Reluctant to reveal her true identity despite her posh accent, she introduces herself as “Lizzy.”
Scripted by Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hood, this diverting, frivolous fantasy is directed with nostalgic charm by Julian Jarrold (“Kinky Boots”), evoking memories of Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.”
Canadian actress Sarah Gadon (“Belle”) captures sensible Lilibet’s sense of loyalty and responsibility, while Bel Powley (“Diary of a Teenage Girl”) embodies exuberant Margaret’s life-long penchant for partying and champagne.
FYI: The filmmakers have taken chronological liberties, since Princess Elizabeth was 19 in 1945 while Princess Margaret was only 14. And, while they did venture out to the Ritz that night, they were accompanied by several vigilant chaperones.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Royal Night Out” is a spirited, speculative 6, an engaging escapade.