I don’t know about you, but I had been counting down the days until the last weekend. Why? The Crown returned to our screens once more with season four.
There’s all manner of things to look forward to.
Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies return as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. At the same time, we are introduced to Emma Corrin as Princess Diana. And a particular favorite of mine, Gillian Anderson as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
While I’m excited, I’m also wary of this season of The Crown. It will undoubtedly show the royal family in a rather negative light. This period was indeed trying for the Firm.
Everything I’ve seen and read thus far points to Prince Charles coming off terribly in this season. The public perception of Charles at the time wasn’t favorable, especially as Princess Diana was such a beloved figure.
What surprises me is the enthusiasm with which the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth as being somewhat out of touch is being met.
The Atlantic, for example, seems somewhat celebratory that The Crown is now being seen to criticize the Queen.
A piece by Shirley Li provides a fascinating insight into how those who are perhaps not fans of the British monarchy feel about The Crown.
I cannot help but suspect that many of the views we see of the British royal family, especially from the more liberal outlets based in the U.S., have been colored by the way Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have acted of late.
Something I noticed when it comes to coverage of The Crown is the shifting of the goalposts in their assessment.
That The Crown isn’t historically accurate and indeed doesn’t claim to be, is something that was thrown continuously at royal fans during the early seasons of the show.
Remember? When, as Shirley Li puts it:
When it comes to the Queen, The Crown tends to forgive easily. Across the Netflix drama’s first three seasons—blanketed in a warm nostalgia and postwar idyll—The Crown argued that her flaws made her only more sympathetic, that she faced unknowable pressure as a monarch and the head of an esteemed institution.
Back then, royal critics were only too quick to point out that The Crown wasn’t entirely factual any time anyone commented on how inspiring the Queen is.
How could it be? The producers had no insight into private Palace goings-on and had to enact a healthy dollop of creative license in their writing of the show.
It’s only natural, and only a fool would believe that the first two or three seasons of The Crown were anything close to factually correct.
However, I fear we’ll see many of those same people who once decried the show’s historical accuracy changing their tune when they watch season four.
Now that ammunition to attack the royal family will be presented, no doubt we’ll hear that season four is actually more accurate than anything that has come before.
Continuing in her article, Li comments:
But in its sharp and splashy fourth season, the show finally criticizes Elizabeth for her ignorance, characterizing her as a ruler whose stubborn devotion to tradition makes her and her family out-of-touch fools caught off guard by change. Yes, fools: Throughout Season 4, The Crown ridicules the royals, mocking their entitlement.
And this is met with much glee from certain quarters of the British media and their international counterparts.
One such instance that amused me about Li’s article was when she commented:
Queen Elizabeth II has a more personal catastrophe on her mind: She’s not sure which of her four children is her favorite.
And so Her Majesty invites each of them to lunch, hoping one will impress her more than the others. It’s a frivolous but revealing endeavor—the four meetings show the gaping emotional distance between Elizabeth and her royal progeny, who all look stunned to be spending time alone with “mummy.” Edward immediately inquires after his Civil List money, as if she were a bank teller. Andrew boasts of a young “actress” he met, a tawdry subject that shocks the sovereign. Charles and Anne rue their marriages, talking over her advice. Colman plays Elizabeth with a dignified embarrassment, forcing smiles through her obvious disappointment.
If ever there was an example of creative license, this is it, surely?
Or are we to believe that the Netflix team managed to find out this personal information? Including how disappointed Elizabeth was with the whole situation?
We see this fictitious scenario being used to question Queen Elizabeth as both a mother and head of state.
I have no doubt we’ll see more nonsense of this ilk after The Crown is released this weekend.