8th May 1945, V.E. Day. It’s the end of the Second World War, and celebrations are taking place throughout the country. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed to leave Buckingham Palace for a few hours to join the crowds in celebration, under the watchful eye of military protection.
A Royal Night Out tells the true story of the evening when, the now Queen Elizabeth, could move incognito amongst the bustling crowds in London, celebrating the end of the war. This is basically the only fact which is accurate in regards to the true story behind this film. Almost as soon as Elizabeth and Margaret have left the Palace, the story veers off into fiction, as we follow the Princesses during their evening out. Elizabeth and Margaret move away from their chaperones for the evening, and we see Elizabeth joined by an airman, played by Jack Reynor, who helps her search for Margaret as she heads out into London with a Naval Officer.
Sarah Gordon as Princess Elizabeth is charming with her effortless naivety and plummy accent. It almost seems at times that we are not watching a film about the future Queen, but rather just following a posh young woman, who is venturing out alone for the first time. Despite being Canadian, her accent doesn’t slip once, and she does an excellent job in portraying the young Elizabeth, and keeping the film entertaining.
Bel Powley as Princess Margaret adds an injection of humour into the film, and a contrast to Elizabeth with her more brazen character. Both actresses carry the film; Gordon especially as we follow in her search for Margaret, as she also faces the first flutters of an early romance.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are portrayed by Rupert Everett and Emily Watson, and it is almost a shame that both do not feature more heavily in the film. However, as we are focusing on the Princesses, we are assigned to seeing Everett and Watson at the beginning and end of the film only. Ultimately, they still manage to add to the already strong cast.
If you have come to A Royal Night Out expecting the true story of the Princesses on 8th May, you won’t find it. If you are looking for a feel-good film with some humorous moments and a lot of fluff, then A Royal Night Out will not fail. A charming British film.
A Royal Night Out is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.