NB – some spoilers below.
I love the Netflix “Original” Series the Crown.
One might assume from this that I am ‘pro-monarchy’ or a ‘royalist’. Like many controversial matters, I do not see any point in ‘taking a side’. However, it is the real woman right at the centre of this discussion who has my admiration, respect and service. Even among the monarchies of the world, there is only one whom everyone calls “The Queen”. I found this streamed series a beautiful tribute to her service to many nations. The structure of the show involves a rotation of casts to follow the aging of the Royal Family and changing British governments. Without a doubt, this is a solidly British television cast. With one incredible exception. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was played an American! I have watched probably more portrayals of the famous war-time leader than most people reading this blog. This is certainly the best portrayal available of a 1950s Churchill returning to power for one last time as Prime Minister and over-seeing the Coronation of the new Queen. Some know me as being a rather politically minded person but it might surprise you that The Crown is full to the brim with politics. I would at times call it a political thriller. The clash between normal nuclear family considerations and service to the nations is what keeps me coming back for more.
The most powerful scene for me in Series 1 is in the very first episode where King George VI takes Prince Phillip (his new son-in-law) shooting. The King makes it very clear to Phillip that that all these royal titles are “not the job. . . she is the job, she is the essence of your duty, loving her, protecting her . . . doing this for her, doing this for me, there would be no greater act of patriotism or love”
Phillip – “I understand sir”
The King – “Do you boy? Do you really?”
Phillip – “I think so”
For a long time, I have never really understood Phillip. However, as he and his wife (Elizabeth) mature as characters, I see why he married her in the first place. It had nothing to do with her being the future Queen. It was simply because he loved her. He found someone who he was willing to give up anything and everything to have as his permanent companion for this life. He frequently wrestled with reality . Series 1 he wrestles with his role in a marriage to a beautiful young woman who has a heavy Crown on her head. Series 2 he wrestles with his role as a father to her son. Series 3 he wrestles with what ‘faith’ means to him. Series 4, in a powerful scene with his eldest son’s wife, Princess Diana, he confesses to her that he has always felt like ‘an outsider’. At that point, I found myself deeply respecting him as he summarised how the Royal Family is full of broken people who are outsiders and servants to the Crown on the head of the woman right at the centre. This concluded a season packed full of emerging psychiatric illnesses among unwell and supposedly well members of that family. It also beautifully completed the 4 season character arc of the Duke of Edinburgh.
The reality of who the woman we call ‘The Queen’ actually is struck me the most. At times I got distracted by Claire Foy’s good looks and Olivia Coleman’s strange costumes. However, there are core values that make our Queen who she is. She serves her country, her family and her God. I watched her fight anything that got in the way of her serving these three. Members of her family would make foolish decisions without her blessing. Prime Ministers would lead the country in a direction that she questioned behind closed doors. She dressed them all done beautifully amidst growing turmoil. However, nobody would dare question her unapologetic faith in God. I noted that every time she is seen going to bed, she is always seen hands together and head down in prayer.
There was a man, whom I greatly admired, who died this year. I remember him describing his experience of meeting The Queen. He said she was the most spiritual woman he had ever met. One of my aunties described her as the most private woman she had ever met. When I was very unwell recently, I remember buying writing paper because I wanted to write a letter to The Queen. I knew she prayed for men like me.
I was deeply moved by the episode mid-series 4 called “Fagan”. I would have called it “The BFG”. It is 1980s Thatcher Britain. Mr Fagan was unemployed and separated from his wife and kids. He was a painter decorator who had no work; which he attributed to lack of government investment in the housing sector and the government spending on the war in the Falkland Islands. He tried benefits. He tried fighting the man who is sleeping with his wife and looking after his kids. He tried arguing with his local MP. Finally, he decided his last resort was to speak to the Queen. He broke into Buckingham Palace, steals a bottle of wine and leaves (the Queen was not in). The next time, the Queen was fast asleep in the palace, he broke in and cut himself on a window. He wakes a terrified Queen; I’m sure about as much as the fictional BFG might have scared the Queen in the famous Roald Dahl novel. However, she sets aside the insanity of the situation. She sits him down and listens to him. She shakes his hand before the guards take him away. That is a woman I respect. A woman who listens to reality. A woman whose primary response to every crisis is prayer.
When the subject is raised by Margaret Thatcher, the Queen makes it firmly clear to Mrs Thatcher that the root of that matter was not palace security; but a matter of the growing rate of unemployment and the unrest this was causing in the country. Every British Prime Minister has to meet with the Queen every week (I believe she is does this ‘regularly’ with the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers too). I am pleased that it is the most prayerful woman in the United Kingdom whom our democratically elected leaders, by constitutional convention, are obliged to sit before and be questioned. It is almost like having a second Leader of the Opposition; except rather than oppose the Prime Minister, she has to support him/her on every matter otherwise there would be a constitutional crisis (there is a thrilling episode in Series 4 which addresses this issue).
“God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen!
O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!”
It is sometimes helpful to read anthems in full; when they are so often abridged when sung.
The closing verses of Psalm 2 in the Holy Scriptures contains a piece of sharp advice that I believe all leaders and rulers listen to.
“. . . you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, les he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Indeed, those who take refuge in Him are deeply blessed.
Leaders of every kind must heed this advice.
#fishandchipsonfriday #TheCrown #InHim
I massively appreciate THE WEE FLEA taking the time to review this series. He is an historian and lived through the times that this series aims to re-create. I was merely commenting on what I saw presented to me as someone born after the death of Princess Diana. I am not in a position to re-produce this content. Hence, I focussed on the content that was closest to reality.