THE CROWN: ACCURACY AND IMPACT ON POP CULTURE

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Produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television, the first season of The Crown came out in November 2016 on Netflix. It starts with Queen Elizabeth II’s marriage with Prince Philipp (actor Matt Smith), Duke of Edinburgh, and it deals with the first decades of the second Elizabethan age. The early seasons represent Elizabeth’s transition from being a “normal” girl to becoming the Queen of England, and the consequences of that in her life. The first part of the final season has recently come out; it focuses on Diana’s last summer with Dodi Al-Fayed and the events after her death. The second part of season six will be available on Netflix from December 14th and it will be the end of this remarkable story.  


Actress Claire Froy as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” (season 1, 2016)


Historical film productions are extremely helpful to learn more about the past, but what is most surprising about The Crown is that the majority of the portrayed characters are still alive and they could potentially watch the show as anybody else. It takes a great responsibility to screen something like this; accusations and critics might overcome positive reviews. 

The Crown has to entertain the audience without including fiction. Luckily, the British Royal family alone has provided enough drama to create six seasons, dealing both with relations within the relatives and world history. The wire that divides personal matters and global issues is really thin; crucial figures are not allowed to show their weaknesses, keeping unresolved traumas within themselves. Those same traumas can really make a difference in the wealth of an entire country. 


In the series, the Crown is also referred to as “the System”, in order to point out how even the Royal Family is powerless. In the episode where Queen Elizabeth had to reject her sister’s request to marry the man she loved, Peter Townsend (actor Ben Miles). Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby in the first seasons) suffered a lot for this matter, but her sister Elizabeth never disapproved of such a union, but the system did. This is the first episode when she had to act as Queen, not as sister. 
The contrasting truth that every member of the family is somehow forced to follow the system’s laws, without being able to make any change, is frustrating. If the Royal family is just a normal one, can it really be relevant for humanity?

Actress Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and actor Matthew Goode as Lord Snowdon in “The Crown” (2016)


ACCURACY 

Screenwriter Peter Morgan wanted the show to be truly authentic, not only historically speaking, but also in the way characters behave. All actors and actresses are extremely similar to the real people they are playing. Princess Diana’s actresses, Emma Corrin (season 4) and Elizabeth Debicki (seasons 5-6) have been successful in giving a new life to one of the most loved women in history. Their mannerism unequivocally reminds us all of our lost princess; the shyness in her eyes, her iconic look given by lowering her chin, and her suffering throughout her marriage and union to the family. 

Another clear example is the main character, Queen Elizabeth herself, interpreted firstly by Claire Froy (seasons 1-2), then by Olivia Colman (seasons 3-4) and finally by Imelda Staunton (seasons 5-6). Elizabeth II° became Queen at the age of 21 and, as years went by, she became more and more aloof, even with the people closer to her. She could not bring together her personal life and her job, otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to fulfill her duty as Queen, so she tried to isolate herself. 

In brief, the production team brilliantly managed to write an accurate show, but also to exhibit the characters in their vulnerability without coming up with anything untrue. 

The research team worked hard, consulting British libraries and talking to people who worked closely with the Royal Family, in order to make no mistakes. Details are the ones that make a difference in the credibility of the story, regarding locations, costumes, and manners. The crew had to thank Major David Rankin-Hunt, who has been of great help when it came to getting the official protocol right. He worked for 33 years at Buckingham Palace, firstly as registrar for Lord Chamberlain and then as an administrator for the Queen’s art collection. David Rankin-Hunt was the one who knew the most about living at the palace: how the staff was supposed to speak to the royals, how official meetings were conducted and what was the appropriate way to meet the monarch, even between family members. 

Actress Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and actor Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles in “The Crown” (season 4, 2020)

Additionally, it is really interesting to see that The Crown gives more importance to bypassed situations and figures. Princess Anne (played by Erin Doherty) is Elizabeth and Philip’s daughter; before the show she was never in the spotlight, shadowed by her brother Charles and then by Diana, Princess of Wales. Yet, she has now gained much more popularity thanks to her storyline in the series. It appears that she was somehow frustrated by Diana’s fame since they were the same age and people seemed to be way more fond of the new princess when Anne had always been there. 

Moreover, showing how secondary characters interact with each other is captivating: Queen Elizabeth has worked with many Prime Ministers and seeing them, making crucial political decisions together, is enlightening. Many fans have a keen interest in the connection between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson): two vigorous women with different mindsets in a patriarchal society, trying to decide the future of a country. 

When thinking about the Royal Family, the first people that come to mind are Diana and Charles. Meeting new scenarios is what makes The Crown so true and authentic, it is a reminder that the protagonist of this TV series is not the Queen, but the Crown in its complexity.  



Actress Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher, in “The Crown” (season 4, 2020)


THE ROYAL FAMILY IS POP CULTURE 

Believe it or not, the Windsor family has become part of pop culture. Everyone seems to have an innate interest in one of the few remaining monarchies in Western countries. Queen Elizabeth has reigned for an entire century, and there is no denying, she had an essential impact on many generations. As a remarkable person, she will always be missed and never forget.

Nowadays, many people do not believe in the monarchy anymore, but they are willing to respect Elizabeth as a crucial figure. The Crown is not the only production about the Royal Family; the movie The Queen with Helen Mirren is a perfect example, alongside The Majestic Life of Elizabeth II, a documentary about her time as a sovereign. Every cinema production has contributed to making Elizabeth II’s reign a strong mainstream phenomenon, but The Crown reached a higher point through its cinematic skills and meticulous research for authenticity. 



Actress Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in “The Crown” (season 6, 2023)


By Costanza Alberti


 

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