Filipino fans of The Crown, which just dropped its 10-episode fourth season on Netflix Sunday, surely did not miss the reference on the Philippines’ former first lady and her infamous shoe collection in one of the show’s episodes.
In a scene in the show’s episode titled “Fairytale,” Princess Margaret (played by Helena Bonham Carter), surrounded by the royal family, recounted her visit to Manila.
“There we are, in Manila, in the middle of a state banquet, when who barges into the room, none other than Imelda. Marcos. She makes a beeline, straight to me, says she’s desperate to show me her… wait for it… her…” said Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister.
“Shoe collection,” said Princess Anne, who was portrayed by Erin Doherty.
“Shell collection,” Princess Margaret corrected her.
“Are you sure?” said Prince Philip, played by Tobias Menzies. “She was probably trying to say ‘shoe’ and you misunderstood it.”
The conversation between the royals continued.
Queen Elizabeth II, played by Olivia Colman, chimed in, “Or she had something in her teeth.” Both characters of Princess Anne and Queen Elizabeth II then spew out pronunciations of “shoe” with a lisp as if mocking what could be the former Philippine first lady’s pronunciation of the word.
The royals laughed and then Princess Margaret said, “No, I can assure you, it was sea…shells.”
Princess Margaret was indeed in Manila for an official visit on behalf of Queen Elizabeth in 1980. Archival photos show that she visited Jose Rizal’s monument in Luneta with the then-first lady and she was a guest of honor at the inauguration of Lungsod ng Kabataan (now Philippine Children’s Medical Center).
In her honor was a dinner reception at the Malacañang. In a photo, Imelda Marcos is seen presenting local books to the princess, who was wearing the Poltimore tiara and Teck Circle necklace. On the right side of the photo are visitors ogling a box of seashells, perhaps where the reference in the show was from.
Princess Margaret, who was portrayed in the series as an independent spirit (first by Vanessa Kirby and currently by Helena Bonham Carter), was hounded by controversies for her romantic relationships. She and her husband, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, were the first British couple to be divorced in 400 years. She died in 2002 after suffering a stroke for the third time.
Banner photo from Ramon Lopez’s Flickr page