With many attempts to recreate Queen Elizabeth II’s early years as sovereign, few have succeeded in hitting the mark and portraying history as it happened. Netflix’s £130 million television 6-part extravaganza, The Crown does exactly that. Starting from a young Elizabeth in season one and apparently ending at season 6 (yet to come) with the royal family as we know them.
Netflix’s latest original series is the most lavish, opulent and dramatic title to date under the streaming giant’s belt. The series features a predominantly British cast with Claire Foy starring as the Queen and beloved actor Matt Smith playing Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
The first episode kicks off in 1947 when Her Majesty was known as Princess Elizabeth, or “Lilibet” by those close to her, prior to her wedding to Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark. Initial scenes see him renounce his Greek and Danish titles and convert from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, as well as adopting the name and style “Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten”.
The series’ main spotlight is firmly fixed on the young Queen after her father King George VI passes and she is forced to take to the throne and rule, however it is her Husband who shines. Viewers see the tough internal battle the Duke of Edinburgh goes through as his Naval career is stripped away and he is refused the right to have his offspring (Prince Charles and Princess Anne) take his surname. This later causes an outburst from Philip who says: “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.”
There is an appetite for drama revolving around the seemingly glamorous and untouched world of the British aristocracy, but The Crown has succeeded in offering a realistic glimpse into the world of the Senior royals when they were quite a bit younger.
No expense has been spared to showcase the high-class lifestyle they live, but it’s refreshing to see their personal lives played out on screen too. As Elizabeth settles into her duties, she often struggles with the conflict between her public and private personas. Within the walls of Buckingham Palace tensions are high. Her marriage isn’t painted in the most flattering of lights towards the end of the series, with Phillip feeling emasculated by Elizabeth’s growing confidence as Queen as mirrored in her increasing assertiveness.
Elsewhere, she has to content with her sister, Princess Margaret’s love scandal with Group Captain Peter Townsend and their decision to marry as well as the unruly Winston Churchill. Thanks to the resurgence of popularity of the Royal Family in recent years, The Crown will be devoured and enjoyed by many, however it’s not a perfect series no matter how luxurious it might appear externally. The drama, in my opinion, fabricates few details but those that do appear significantly contribute to the plot and do well to overall improve it. If you do choose to watch all 10 episodes back-to-back, get a gin in hand first and take a sip every time someone mentions ‘the crown’ – it will change your life for the better.