Amidst this seemingly major crisis, there is finally something the nation can celebrate together as today marks HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s 94th birthday. From our perspective, living the life of the Queen of England seems very lavish and luxurious: several palaces with private estates, a thousand staterooms, people serving you every second of your day and meeting some of the most distinguished people in the world. It all just seems like an unimaginable dream, but the age-old saying from a Shakespearean piece of literature couldn’t be truer for the Queen. Being stuck at home has allowed me to explore and watch several movies and shows, but there was one particular series that opened my eyes to see what being the Queen is actually like.
The Crown is a Netflix original series quite literally about the queen and the various people that have been a part of her life and her journey to becoming the longest reigning monarch in English history. It is no documentary, but an adaptation of real events transformed into a biographical drama. Each season covers important events in the Nation’s history and events that have shaped the Queen today, covering a rough ten-year span per season, with ten episodes of an hour each. In 2016, Season 1 of this series had launched, and a buzz went around across the cinematic world. Unconvinced about how entertaining it would be, I sat to watch the first episode. Today, I have reached the penultimate episode of Season 3, eager for more.
What struck me first about this series was the attention to detail. Almost every actor looks very similar to the royals at that specific age. Every setting, every single mannerism, every character and even the accent was very real. After a few episodes, one might even think the actors where the real royals. Even a character who appears for about fifteen minutes in one episode is extremely similar to the real person. The first season had Claire Foy, the eleventh Doctor Who, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby who played the roles of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret respectively. Claire Foy’s performance was exceptional, and she gained a lot of recognition after it. John Lithgow also appeared for a few episodes to play Winston Churchill, and he too fits very well in the role. The cast was revamped after season 2 to depict the slightly older royals. The new cast included Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies and Helena Bonham Carter in the same roles. The fans of the series wouldn’t have been too excited by the news as the previous actors had done too good a job that it would have been very difficult to match, but it was also quite exciting to see how the new actors would adjust. When acting like a Queen or a Prince, it is very easy to overdo it and present like a caricature and it is unsettling in the first few episodes of the season to see new faces. However, Colman and Menzies were perfect for the roles and acted remarkably well. They carried themselves perfectly, and everything from the hair of the Queen to her accent, the slight tilt in Prince Phillip’s gait to the paintings hung on the walls of the palace: everything was perfected.
While Season 1 and 2 give an insight into the personalities of the young royals, Season 3 shows more mature royals. To some, it may seem less dramatic and exciting, but that is the very point: not everything in life is a fairy tale. We might be under the impression that it is very easy to be the Queen. The true difficulties faced by her and her relatives are still unknown to us today but this season, in particular, opens your eyes proving that it certainly isn’t easy. She fights to keep traditions even at an age and time when most people would give up, while being open to modern change. She still carries out every procedure she needs to, attending every meeting and ceremony, meeting the Prime Minister every week regardless of whether she agrees with their belief or not. They are human after all, they too have emotions, they too make mistakes sometimes and it would strike you how relatable their thoughts are to ours. Yes, not everything in the series may be exact, and we don’t know whether or not they are truly like they have been depicted, but it can’t all be wrong. And that is what should be loved about this series, it tries to show the royals as closely as they are. There is no bias, no motive to show them in good light, just a clear biographical adaptation based on historical evidence. My respect for the royals has increased after watching this series. Even if they are not truly as portrayed, we must admit that it is difficult to constantly be in the light of the media, to always seem a certain way to the outside world but still be true to themselves. Over the years, the Queen and the royals have come under a lot of criticism, but she is our Head of State for a reason and we must respect her commitment to what she said on her twenty-first birthday: “I declare before you that my whole life, be it long or short shall be devoted to your service.”
The Crown is an amazingly well filmed and realistic series, that always seems to get its casting right with extremely talented actors. It is a must-watch and educates you about the reality of living in Buckingham Palace; it is not a resort, just a very big home housed by one of the strongest women, with feelings and emotions of any other woman, who still carries the responsibility and burden that comes with wearing The Crown.
by Rathi Ramakrishnan, Nower Hill High School