The Crown – Why the Series Is Both Grace and Curse for British Monarchy?

The weakness of the monarchy, in comparison with the previous 12 centuries of reign and the arrival of a person who has lived without the insistence of PR managers before, led to this crack. Now it needs to be patched. Could a Netflix series be this patch?

by Anastasiia Ageeva


Is the re-creation of historical events in The Crown a favor for the British monarchy?
Pressure Lever or Objective Chronicle?
We can only guess which goal was the main one for the creators of The Crown (2016 - present). They showed us internal problems and obligations to the nation that can destroy family relationships. Should we sympathize with them? Or do we need to be on the lookout because, as Simon Jenkins claims, The Crown is "reality hijacked as propaganda, and a cowardly abuse of artistic licence"?

Critics say with might and main that it is the project about six decades in the life of the Queen of Great Britain that will be able to return the monarchy to its relevance. And it already does this. The historian Greg Jenner said, "The Crown depicts the Royals' life as a soap opera, which in turn makes us believe that we know more about the Royal Family than we actually do." Thus, the Windsors went the long way from the divine family to those with whom we can identify ourselves.
How was the show perceived in the world?
On International Women's Day, a bomb fell on the world — CBS broadcasted Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The couple has answered many questions focusing on the main one — why did they trade the UK for Canada and then for the USA and leave behind the duties of members of the royal family? From their wedding, about which Markle said "this wasn't our day, this was the day planned for the world", to the persecution of her family members by the tabloids — everything in this conversation indicated that the patience of these young people had run out long ago.

Previously, any disagreements in the Windsor family could be left inside the walls of the palace, except for the loud abdication of Edward VIII. But the weakness of the monarchy, in comparison with the previous 12 centuries of reign and the arrival of a person who has lived without the insistence of PR managers before, led to this crack. Now it needs to be patched. Could a Netflix series be this patch?
Since the first season of The Crown, 73 million of so-called households have watched the series, more than in the whole UK. Moreover, in 2016 the creators received a large number of negative reviews from the residents of India — this was due to the Koh-i-noor diamond in the crown of Elizabeth shown in the series and the burden of colonialism that this country and others carry to this day.
All of the above allows us to conclude that the influence of The Crown on the world is great. So much that it opens old wounds and inflicts new ones — on the royal family itself. Prince Charles suffered, since it was his relationship with Princess Diana that the fourth season is devoted to. As it turned out, several episodes were deliberately invented in order to enhance the drama. And if you activate your inner conspiracy theorist, then you can ask — why the Windsor family were not embarrassed by the fabrications in the previous 30 episodes?

«ut jokes aside — who benefits from the layout of the real situation and the portrayal of the complex obligations and responsibilities of the monarchs? The origin of the series is in Peter Morgan's desire to recount the audience of the Queen and her prime ministers, but the creators turned one storyline into an analysis of the entire era. 60 years, during which Elizabeth II has been sitting on the throne, will be studied and translated into artistic language.

At the same time, Morgan's courage should be noted. Despite the fact that the British treat their rulers with satirical contempt, as Giles Harvey wrote, the producer remains majestically somewhere in the middle: "He wanted to see the Windsors steadily and to see them whole, as neither pampered half-wits nor infallible deities." It can be said that blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction is not easy for Morgan, and yet the artistic elements fit into the story like a glove.

Also there is a plausible explanation for Morgan's piety. He is the son of immigrants who met in 1950s' London. The first years of his parents' life in the new country were under the auspices of Elizabeth II — she ascended the throne in 1952. One can probably assume that they conveyed a part of their gratitude to the queen and the country for a new life and future to their son.
Is The Crown the first attempt to talk about the monarchy in the UK?
It is already clear why The Crown is in the limelight. But have there been other attempts to tell the story of the modern royal family in an artistic way? The Queen (2006, Peter Morgan as writer) and Diana (2013) focus primarily on years 1995-1997, events that occurred shortly before and after Princess Diana's death. For many years, it has been this event leaving questions that many filmmakers wanted to answer. But life is the best screenwriter. It bared trends over time that could not be overlooked, and Peter Morgan reacted to them promptly.
We need to ask ourselves — is The Crown just vile propaganda directed by Britain's oldest institution, which is getting too old against the backdrop of modernity? Simon Jenkins, already familiar to us, recalls Shakespeare's plays and how he freely handles history, allowing himself some liberties not only in interpretation, but also in conveying facts. And yet the journalist insists that in the current world everything should be different: "There cannot be one truth for historians, and journalists, their apprentice draftsmen, and another truth called artistic licence." Jenkins primarily addresses defamation, privacy and libel laws. But, according to the journalist, not only these laws should have kept Morgan from creating the series.
This is a two-edged story. While Peter Morgan was an excellent PR manager for the royal family, it was to their advantage — the whole world was looking forward to their next appearance on Netflix and worried about the problems they faced. A British historian and biographer Robert Lacey, who acted as a consultant to The Crown, believes that the show has done the monarchy a service by humanising the Queen and those around her. But the events approached the present day and became more painful because the wounds had not yet been healed. Like the scene where the show tangentially touches on the allegations of sexual misconduct by the Queen's son, Prince Andrew, which are developing nowadays. At that moment the Royal family began to panic.

«ut with all this, it should be noted that the Royal family itself provoked an interest in The Crown, which only benefited it. Let's explain now. The appearance of Meghan Markle, with whom we began this article, coincided with the first release of the series on the screens. The story of the former actress, a commoner in the world of royals, sparked an unprecedented interest. She and Prince Harry managed to win the fight against the laws of Buckingham Palace, which Edward VIII, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles could not do.

After the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from Great Britain could it be understood that the monarchy was still not happy with people from outside. But we must pay tribute — nevertheless, a large clumsy machine backed up for a while.
We will take the fourth season as an example. The series as well as history took a major step in the 80s. The narrative is driven by women — the Queen never giving up on her decisions, Margaret Thatcher taking the Prime Minister's office and making Britain great again, and Princess Diana being in the middle of a depressing nightmare herself but inspiring everyone around. This era of female leadership conveniently paralleled the reality where Meghan Markle is no longer led, as her mother-in-law once was, but has a slightly louder voice and can pave the way for her family herself.
Summing up this reflection on the impact of the series on reality and vice versa, we can say with confidence that this impact definitely exists. However, it's too early to talk about its absolutely positive or negative perspective — let's wait until the sixth season mentioning other hard-hitting stories close to modernity. Then, comparing the perception of the royal family by the world today and in the future, it will be possible to draw a conclusion on how much The Crown helped the royal family to stay afloat in the world where monarchies are gradually becoming history.
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