As the figurehead of any imperialist nation the monarch is supposed to be the person you live for, fight for, and die for. The role of the monarch, an increasingly less productive and passive one if you consider history, has seen its fair share of victims. Talullah Bankhead, as Russian Czarina Catherine the Great, is indeed one of those people worth living, fighting, and dying for, but is certainly no less ambivalent than your average Kaiser, Emperor, Queen, or otherwise and a great deal more honest in articulating just how little she does know (or really care) about her empire and the people in it. A Royal Scandal depicts an often trashy and frivolous comedy within the confines of an adorned part of Russian heritage, and refuses to show what life is like outside of this campy madcap palace. What it does do, however, is introduce an outsider, soldier Alexei, who proceeds to really shake things up, both through his strong political beliefs and his devilishly good looks, which make more than an impact upon the restless monarch.
It's twenty minutes before Bankhead makes an appearance in A Royal Scandal, the first portion of the film dedicated to Charles Coburn's absorbing, charismatic Chancellor, William Eythe's plucky and eager Liutenant, and Vincent Price's hilarious scene-stealing performance as a French ambassador. It's a smart move, because without these early exchanges there simply wouldn't be the sense of politics or cohesive network within the palace that is vital to the film's final act, and it would diminish the anticipation and subsequent satisfaction of being introduced to a woman that makes such a lasting impression with every flail and quip that it's almost a punishment when she's not on-screen.