As published on September 16, 2022 in Caderno B+ of Correio do Estado
The farewell of an icon of constancy in the lives of so many people around the world, after all, only on the throne Elizabeth II spent no less than 70 years, provoked – unsurprisingly – a revival of The Crown. The award-winning Netflix series chronicles the life of the British Queen over several decades, starting in the late 1940s before her father, King George VI, died and Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1952, aged just 25. We learn or remember periods of political conflict that marked the personal and public life not only of Elizabeth II but of her relatives and subjects, with dramatic adaptations that are not always exactly true. In this way, we go through the various prime ministers of her reign, from Winston Churchill – during the post-war era – to recently the Queen’s interactions with Margaret Thatcher in the midst of turbulent 1980s Britain.
If the political side has interesting chapters, which show the evolution of the initially insecure monarch into a pragmatic leader, almost insensitive in the eyes of the people (she has difficulty interacting affectionately with her children or even crying), it is unsurprisingly the part of her private life which entertains us more. From the marital crises between Elizabeth and Prince Philip to the drama of Princess Margaret, the sadness of the forbidden love between Charles and Camilla until the entrance of Princess Diana in the plot is a novel that contextualizes the ongoing worldwide obsession with a family beyond complicated. As a mix of a reality show, serial, documentary and fiction, The Crown practically does not fit into a single genre and is addictive. A headache for the Royal Family, which always chooses silence to avoid controversy, but which also has no control over people’s interest in their lives or even less how they can be portrayed.
The big hook of the series is precisely in the paradox of this rule of silence established by the Queen. Peter Morgan, the showrunner, uses what has been published in books or reports to transport us behind the scenes, “imagining” how these scenes might have played out, but almost all of them actually did happen. His film The Queen (available on Amazon Prime Video in Brazil) won an Oscar for Helen Mirren and recounts a crucial turning point in the reign of Elizabeth II when in Diana’s death this attitude of discretion and an attempt to deal with grief privately provoked a political crisis that almost challenged the Monarchy. Unfortunately for the Windsors, just when Charles went from being Prince to King, it is the most painful and controversial period of his adult life that will be remembered in the next season of The Crown. At a time when people can’t tell fiction from reality, it’s going to be pretty complicated for the new King and Queen Consort to deal with Diana’s ghost once again.
The luck of the Royal Family is that the pandemic delayed the recordings and despite having been promised for November 2022, the new part of the story has more to do with airing only in the second half of 2023 (to be confirmed). It may be that Charles has had a regnal year when he comes back to dealing with his past. Even luckier for the Queen, who won’t have to live with the decade that (until then) had been one of the most painful of her life shown all over again. In the 1990s, a part of Windsor Castle was ravaged by fire, and her three children separated amid scandals. That’s right, we’ll see how famous “annus horribilis” was and we’ll get to the tragic death of Diana, 25 years ago.
If we compare it to the current crisis, carried out by the youngest wing of the Royal Family, these dramas seem small, but they are the seed of the present times. The Crown would initially conclude with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee at the real year she would have completed her Platinum Jubilee, but there is information that it could extend to the most recent period now. For the moment, though, the monarch’s trajectory until 40 years ago is in the top 10 of Netflix and binge is valid to whet curiosity for the next steps. Elizabeth II was played by two award-winning actresses, Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, who captured the Queen’s complex personality well. Imelda Staunton is the one dealing with the next challenge. Just prepare the tea and embark on recent history.