I’ve been watching The Crown and just finished the fourth season, and I have to say that it’s changed my opinion of some of the royals. Not that I ever followed the royals very closely, or at all really. But I’d hear about them from time to time.
When the British royal family comes up in conversation, I usually say something like, if I were British I’d probably be an anti-monarchist, though I don’t know if that’s true, as I do see some advantages to separating the ceremonial aspects of governing from the, you know, actual governing itself. Though I’m not sure how well that’s really worked out for the Brits lately.
Anyway I’m assuming that the tv show gets the characters and the relationships and the big public events correct while rearranging and perhaps inventing some more private events in the interests of the drama. I can say that my opinion of Prince Philip has plummeted precipitously, while I’m feeling much more sympathetic towards Prince Charles. Meanwhile, the show has pretty much confirmed my opinion of Princess Diana, while taking my view of the Queen down a peg or two.
First, there’s Prince Philip. I had always rather liked Philip, as what little I knew of him, it seemed he played his role quite well. But what a wanker! The show is rather ambiguous as to his infidelities, but I’m assuming those were real. And in the first few years after the Queen’s coronation he behaved like a real spoiled brat as if he had no idea what was in store for him as second banana to the monarch. And then when we learn about his troubled childhood and maybe begin to develop a bit of sympathy for him—he ruins even that by forcing the same bullying school system on Charles. And when he comes to America and whines about not being paid enough to maintain his lifestyle. Wanker! Wanker! Wanker!
I didn’t know much about Princess Margaret before watching the show. I’m finding her sympathetic at times (she really ought to have been allowed to marry whomever she wanted) and annoying at other times (her father and uncle both died from lung cancer and she still smokes like a chimney?). One of the more interesting of the royals.
Not sure if I even knew about Princess Anne at all. She seems to be the most sensible and realistic of the royals. I like her.
I couldn’t have named Prince Andrew and Prince Edward as sons of the Queen before seeing the show. Not impressed with either of them. (I only know Andrew from his sexcapades with Jeffrey Epstein, and while I remember hearing about Fergie, I couldn’t have said how she was related to the royal family.)
I had heard that the show was written by folks who were extremely unsympathetic to Prince Charles, but I’m not finding that to be the case, although maybe season five will change that. In any case, I had never much cared for Charles, although I couldn’t really say why. He and I are about the same age (he’s a year older, I think), and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had negative things to say about him, I’ve always seen him in the worst light, but after seeing how he was treated by his parents, especially his father, I’m much more sympathetic towards him. And given the way his family plotted and schemed to keep him away from the woman he wanted to marry and then forced him to wed a young girl whom he hardly knew, I’m much more sympathetic to him now. Though I do question his judgment in remaining fixated on a chain smoker; we never see Mrs. Parker Bowles without a ciggie dangling from her mouth.
I always thought of Princess Diana as a scheming little gold digger who wormed her way into the royal family because she loved to be in the limelight, and this show has confirmed it. Never liked her and never understood what all the fuss was about.
Margaret Thatcher was not a member of the royal family, of course, but she is a character in the show, which has confirmed my opinion that she was a horrible excuse for a human being.
Overall I’ve always rather liked the Queen in real life, as she seemed to fulfill her ceremonial duties with aplomb, and for the most part the show has confirmed that opinion, especially as it has dramatized how little leeway she actually had in performing her duties. But I do think she should have stood up to those arrogant church officials in the funny costumes and taken them down a few pegs to let her sister marry Peter Townsend. And I think she could have been and should have been a better mother, especially to Charles—she should have put her foot down to Philip about his schooling.
Perhaps I’m being too kind to her, as the show is probably presenting an idealized version of the Queen.
On to season five.