In a suitably chilling scene in the opening episode of House of Cards season five, President Frank Underwood is standing on a White House balcony with his wife (and vice presidential nominee) Claire, staring down at the citizens gathered outside the gates.
Looking down at them – through the scope of their security detail’s sniper rifle – they watch the crowd.
“They’re looking back across the lawn toward the house and these windows, and they’re thinking, ‘I wonder what the President and First Lady are doing tonight, and will they be able to protect us?'” Frank says.
Well, Claire knows what she’s doing tonight – going to her lover Tom Yates.
But Frank? Well, he’s humming show tunes out on the balcony.
“I know what my people are thinking tonight, as home through the shadows they wander,” he begins to sing as he puffs on a cigarette…
But what’s the song?
Well, the theme comes from the Broadway musical Camelot, and is called I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight.
It’s kind of appropriate given the Underwoods’ increasing desire to turn the presidency into their personal dynastic dynasty.
A post shared by Stephanie G. (@stephanieoninsty) on
But the tune has even deeper connotations: the song was a favourite of assassinated President John F Kennedy.
His wife Jacqueline told LIFE writer Theodore White that Kennedy used to listen to the song before going to bed, and that he particularly loved the final lines: Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot.
Listen to Richard Burton singing the song in full.
I know what my people are thinking tonight, As home through the shadows they wander. Ev’ryone smiling in secret delight, They stare at the castle and ponder. Whenever the wind blows this way, You can almost hear ev’ryone say:
I wonder what the king is doing tonight? What merriment is the king pursuing tonight? The candles at the court, they never burned as bright. I wonder what the king is up to tonight? How goes the final hour As he sees the bridal bower Being regally and legally prepared? Well, I’ll tell you what the king is doing tonight: He’s scared! He’s scared!
You mean that a king who fought a dragon, Whacked him in two and fixed his wagon, Goes to be wed in terror and distress? Yes!
A warrior who’s so calm in battle Even his armor doesn’t rattle Faces a woman petrified with fright? Right!
You mean that appalling clamoring That sounds like a blacksmith hammering Is merely the banging of his royal knees? Please!
You wonder what the king is wishing tonight? He’s wishing he were in Scotland fishing tonight! What occupies his time while waiting for the bride? He’s searching high and low for some place to hide. And oh, the expectation, The sublime anticipation He must feel about the wedding night to come. Well, I’ll tell you what the king is feeling tonight: He’s numb! He shakes! He quails! He quakes! And that’s what the king is doing tonight
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news