Yes, it’s clear enough what the episode is trying to say – despite the lack of formal education and a clear lack of confidence, Elizabeth does in fact have the ability to stand her ground and hold her own with these elder statesmen. But is that quite the right message to send? After all, it is essentially validating the education she received – a final note to turn around and say “well, actually”, dismissing Elizabeth’s well-founded grievances about her lack of schooling.
In many ways, it’s actually quite bleak; ever since her youth, Elizabeth has been groomed for one specific role in mind, limited and curtailed and most of all controlled. It’s perhaps not that different from breeding animals, depending on the comparisons you want to make. For a while it’s criticised, but then finally excused. It’s okay because it works. It doesn’t matter what happened to her, because the eventual aim is achieved.
This episode, I’d argue, is the one most diminished by The Crown’s abject refusal to admit to any flaws the Monarchy may have. It’s the only one that even comes close to launching a meaningful critique of the institution – before going on to make some fumbled apologies and continue glorifying them. For all that Peter Morgan can insist he “wants his independence”, it’s hardly apparent here.