Within months, the queen and Blair find themselves in a crisis that involves not politics but a personal tragedy that was completely unforeseen -- the death of Diana, princess of Wales, in a Paris car crash."The Queen" tells the story of how her death with her boyfriend, the playboy department store heir Dodi Fayed, would threaten to shake the very monarchy itself.

But Blair is correct that the flag has become a lightning rod for public opinion. Played by Sylvia Syms, she is shown at 90-plus years, still tart and sharp-witted.

The queen is correct, indeed, by tradition and history in all she says about the affair -- but she is sadly aloof from the national mood. At the last minute, the palace needs a protocol plan for the funeral, and time is so short that the Queen Mum's own funeral plan has to be borrowed and modified.

The press demands that Elizabeth fly the flag at half-mast as a symbolic gesture at Buckingham Palace. The palace will not acknowledge the death or sponsor the funeral."The Queen" comes down to the story of two strong women loyal to the doctrines of their beliefs about the monarchy, and a man who is much more pragmatic.

The queen is correct, technically, in not lowering the flag to half-mast -- it is not a national flag, but her own, flown only when she is in residence.

Listen to her NPR Interview The Sociology of "Hooking Up": Author Interview on Inside Higher Ed Newsweek: Campus Sexperts Hookup culture creates unfamiliar environment - to parents, at least Hooking Up: What Educators Need to Know - An op-ed on CHE by the author It happens every weekend: In a haze of hormones and alcohol, groups of male and female college students meet at a frat party, a bar, or hanging out in a dorm room, and then hook up for an evening of sex first, questions later.

As casually as the sexual encounter begins, so it often ends with no strings attached; after all, it was “just a hook up.” While a hook up might mean anything from kissing to oral sex to going all the way, the lack of commitment is paramount.Syms has a priceless reaction where she learns that her honor guard, all servicemen, will be replaced by celebrities -- even, gasp, Elton John."The Queen" could have been told as a scandal sheet story of celebrity gossip.Instead, it becomes the hypnotic tale of two views of the same event -- a classic demonstration, in high drama, of how the Establishment has been undermined by publicity.Told in quiet scenes of proper behavior and guarded speech, "The Queen" is a spellbinding story of opposed passions -- of Elizabeth's icy resolve to keep the royal family separate and aloof from the death of the divorced Diana, who was legally no longer a royal, and of Blair's correct reading of the public mood, which demanded some sort of public expression of sympathy from the crown for "The People's Princess."It was extraordinary, the grief that people felt after her death.I was reminded of the weeks after the assassination of John F. Was it out of proportion to Diana's objective importance?It creates an uncanny sense that it knows what goes on backstage in the monarchy; in the movie, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother have settled into a sterile domesticity cocooned by servants and civil servants.