As the Soviets test the H-bomb, both Churchill and Eden have major health crises. Angry about her inadequate education, Elizabeth hires a tutor.
The stroke Winston Churchill suffers was his fourth of five and the most debilitating. Although the series collapses time and makes it appear he recovered quickly. The truth is rather different; Churchill had a history of significant illnesses that were hidden from most of the government and the sovereign, first George VI, then the Queen. He had previously suffered three milder strokes, the first while vacationing in France in 1949, and the second and third in 1950. In these cases, he recovered quickly and was back at work in a short time, with the strokes, as well as a bout with pneumonia and a mild heart attack known only to a few close advisors.
The stroke featured in the episode actually happened on June 23, 1953. Churchill was stricken after dinner, but was well enough the next morning to conduct his Cabinet meeting before deteriorating rapidly. He was spirited away to his home at Chartwell, where he recovered over the course of the next four months. While he was recovering, the government was effectively run by his Private Secretary, Jock Colville along with his son-in-law. Over time, he was able to engage in some long-distance governance before returning to public life in October. The long-delayed meeting with U.S. President Eisenhower finally took place in December, 1953.
Churchill's stroke corresponded with Anthony Eden's illness and surgery. Had Eden been fit and healthy, historians believe Churchill's government would have fallen, and Eden would have taken over as Prime Minister.
- This episode addresses the Princess Elizabeth's limited education and her desire to learn, while hinting that, even though she was second in line to the throne, there was little belief she would one day be Queen. It also reflects generations of aristocratic attitudes about the education young women, who were destined to marry well, manage a household, become a hostess, and fill a largely decorative role, thus needing little formal education.
- In one scene, Elizabeth is surrounded by young aristocratic Etonians, youthful versions of the men who will one day serve in government and have charge of her household as the "men in grey suits". While they received a classical education (i.e. literature, mathematics and science, philosophy and politics), Elizabeth was taught to read, write and understand the role of the Crown versus the government, leaving her uninformed regarding world events and the developing modern world.
- Scientia Potentia Est is Latin for the expression "knowledge is power", the theme of this episode.