In Game of Thrones, her character is one of the core members of the feminist dream team that tried to take down Cersei (and failed). She's witty, brusque, and appreciates a good brothel. Most importantly, she has the most ruthless warriors in all of Westeros bowing at her feet. Yep, we're talking about Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), the de-factor ruler of the Iron Islands — that is, until her uncle, Euron (Pilou Asbæk), returned and threatened her place on the throne. All in all, Gemma Whelan's character on Game of Thrones is a badass.
Considering Yara's typical wardrobe of brass plates and black capes, we don't blame you for not recognizing Gemma Whelan during her brief appearance on The Crown. In the fifth episode of season 2, "Marionettes," Whelan plays Patricia Campbell, the assistant to the journalist who critiqued the queen's tone-deaf speech. She wears pink frills and floral scarves, not armour.
In a season full of philandering husbands and Nazi uncles, Whelan's character's sweet and endearing storyline is quite refreshing. Her boss, Lord Altrincham (John Heffernan), is appalled by one of the queen's speeches, which he considers stiff, demeaning, and out-of-touch. In his opinion, the palace has failed to evolve along with the rest of the country in the post-WWII era. So, he decides to write a critical response. Though it's late in the evening, Patricia happily sticks around to transcribe, and a montage of jazz and typewriters ensue. They laugh conspiratorially about Alrtrincham's discovery that "the first rule of royalty is to inspire," and prance around each other like timid and excited does.
Altrincham's op-ed stirs up an immediate controversy. At first, 85% of the country disagrees with him. After he explains his reasoning on a widely broadcast program called Impact, half of the country agrees with his sentiments.
Unsurprisingly, the palace is concerned by the public's sudden change of opinion. Altrincham is summoned to the palace to speak with Martin Charteris, the queen's assistant private secretary. At first, Altrincham is hesitant to follow through with the invitation, since he believes Charteris is nothing but a pawn to the palace. Patricia encourages him to go "in the spirit of openness and wanting to work together." She also insists he bring along a set of concrete suggestions.
Altrincham was wise to listen to Patricia and write down his thoughts on preserving the monarchy in the modern age, because he doesn't meet with Charteris — he meets with the queen herself. A trembling and intimidated Altrincham pulls out his pre-written piece of paper and reads the main suggestions, from eliminating the elitist Debutant's Ball to allowing divorced people to move freely in royal circles. Though the meeting is tense, the queen recognises the validity of Altrincham's concerns. The palace enacts many of his suggestions.
At the end of the episode, the following statement appears: "The palace later conceded that Lord Altrincham did as much as anyone in the 20th century to help the Monarchy." Altrincham was only able to communicate his thoughts to the queen with grace and composure because of Patricia's sage advice to come to the meeting prepared. Five points for House Greyjoy!