“These are people who are not used to being taken seriously,”Peter Morgan , the writer said, while referring to the Royal family.
Irish Republicans , Irish nationalists, British loyalists and British Unionists could do worse than catching the new Netflix drama series “The Crown”. Don’t hang about and wonder what all the fuss is about when you reach that moment in conversation where you didn’t know what “Breaking Bad”, “Justified” or “Better Call Saul ” was all about.Give yourself a break ; get in on the ground floor and waste ten hours of your life on the first season of a projected six and lap up those first ten episode of this sixty-part story.Make time for this…you can re-read “Ulysses” at any old time.
It’s not simply the biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth 11. It ‘s nothing less than a neatly potted history of life after World War 11 and comes across as a mixture of the satirical “Yes Minister” and the Machiavellian “Wolf Hall”.
The Royal Family have never been sold to the public as intellectual giants and it is patently obvious that they would never ,by any stretch, have fitted that particular mould , but that does not mean that they and their advisors are not extremely and deeply cunning and masters of manipulation. Make no mistake about it , there is a huge groundswell of love for this Royal Family by people who know very little about them or what makes them tick.This could be viewed as “Royal Family For Dummies”. It certainly scratches deeper into the patina which appears to be the usual public face. It may not make a lot of sense to many who can only wonder why people go out and cheer these relatively unremarkable individuals or who bow their heads in their presence but it will surely satisfy some atavistic desire deep in their heart .Are people simply gulled by the wealth, pageant and glamour or are some of us missing a trick here? After all the public is currently being asked to pay for the refurbishment of a palace at a time when they are also worrying about their own wages, or their own jobs.There is obviously some opaque magic afoot that has people , suitably enough , hypnotised and in the thrall of Franz , Fredrick, Anton Mesmer, surely? In this series , this particular Wizard Of Oz is dragged from behind the curtain and his “magic” is revealed for all the world to see.
This television series probes behind the scenes of this mysterium and attempts to realise the sculpture from the stone.If some of the conflated, behind the scenes dramatic set-ups are only half-correct , they just might make viewers think anew about “royalty” and what that actually means. This is not “Downton Abbey” although it is probably aimed initially at those kind of viewers across the world.The difference is in the fact that public versions of many of those who appear have already been known as blood -and- bone living persons as opposed to the fictions of Downton.
“The Crown”, as a package , is an American/British television drama series, created and written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures for Netflix.Netflix and HBO are usually responsible for a range of modern ,thoughtful episodic television series It’s the kind of thing that the BBC alone was once very good at doing, but I imagine that the actual money spent on some radical production values might have been too rich for their blood alone.It is reckoned that some £100 million has been spent on this epic tale so you might expect a good return for your money. This is filmed as a biographical story about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The first season, comprising 10 one-hour episodes, was released complete, as is the modern way ,in November , 2016. So far it has already received a positive reception , citing excellent performances by the actors.The “Doctor Who” actor Matt Smith produces a particularly, strangely creepy Prince Phillip, from his actorly bag-of-tricks ,for example ,and many of the characters involved are crisply and accurately approximated; their flaws and their strengths are pefectly delineated The writing and cinematography are impressive too and the events appear to follow the historical record with some degree of accuracy.
“The Crown” traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from just before her wedding in 1947 to the present day. It is expected to span 60 episodes over six seasons, with the actress Claire Foy playing the Queen in the early part of her reign.One telling observation is that there appears to be no glimmer of obsequiousness apparent in the writing.Everyone’s weaknesses are on display here. The picture drawn of Churchill’s fading years and his background imput, is well done , for example. So far I’ve watched the first six episodes over a couple of evenings.For me , the best was episode five .It is titled “Smoke And Mirrors” and it involves ,on one hand, the death of the old Queen Mary and on the other, the bitchy machinations behind the scenes to refuse the abdicated Duke of Winsor and his exiled wife Wallis Simpson any invitation to the coronation ceremony . The ceremony itself reveals the “Smoke and Mirrors” of the aforementioned title. This is where, hidden behind screens, Elizabeth receives the “Holy Oils “and is annointed in the stead of god to rule this little corner of the world for him personally , as is her designated right. She really has to believe that this is a true form of transubstantiation in order to pick up the challenge of a thousand-year monarchial continuity and leave behind friends and even family for a lifetime’s pursuance to a service to god and in essence to ” God’s own country”.
The Prince Philip character already looks as though he’s been given his own poisoned chalice when he finally sees the scale of ambition ranged against him. Churchill had already poked his nose into his private- life , chastising him for learning to fly and thus threatening the monarchy with a possible careless death . This is a family which would never allow him to leave , even if he wanted to..(..not that he had anywhere left to go anyway, having originally been smuggled out of a heaving ,rebellious Greece in an orange- crate and having had to give away his name , title, friends and very relations in order to become Mr Windsor…)They’d find a way to control him even though he is actually the unwanted modernising hand behind the monarch. The Queen’s sister Princess Margaret is about to witness the reality of it all too when she vainly attempts to marry her divorced lover, Group Captain Peter Townsend .We already know how that one worked out.
Soon after her coronation ,Queen Elizabeth flies into Belfast and basks in the pleasure of her most loyal of subjects, anywhere on earth and smiles benignly as the lambeg drummers hammer out a noisome welcome for their queen. All was obviously well in her realm as the 1950’s got going .Rhodesia was still her playground and closer to home in the northern part of Ireland folks were still touching their collective forelocks and glomming on her celestial presence.Little did anyone know at that time how complex the world was about to become .
I can’t wait to watch what happens next.
The writer of the series, Morgan recently speculated what the Sovereign’s political views might actually be : “I bet she would’ve voted Brexit, but to her eternal agony or eternal relief, she’s never voted in her life.”
Now isn’t that a curious thought? The person whose government steers the future of her realm is not allowed to vote on its future ; a strange, strange thought, that…..