Just last week, Netflix released its most expensive exclusive series to date, The Crown. The series follows the life of Princess Elizabeth as she navigates life before becoming Queen of England, and from other reports, the series is set to last six series.
In a pique of avoidance the other weekend, I watched the first series of the show in three days (not hard for a ten episode series), and if you’re at all curious about some of the finer aspects of the life of a member of the British Royal family, then the show is for you.
Even if I’m by no means British, the Royal Family has always been something that appealed to me. It’s also nearly impossible to avoid hearing about their lives, but a slightly fictionalized version is something else. Because, of course, there are scores of photographs documenting the life of Queen Elizabeth II, but as news, the details feel removed.
No one really knows The Queen, yet we all want to wish her well and watch how she goes about her duties. In The Crown, we see a young princess who becomes monarch and how she struggles. The struggles, and the frustrations are deftly portrayed by Claire Foy (her previous credits include Upstairs Downstairs, Little Dorrit and Wolf Hall) and in her scenes, there are deep fears and emotional scars from her childhood.
Foy is not the only strong role in the series, however. Matt Smith (Doctor Who) is the Duke of Exeter, Prince Philip, and he has this charmingly awful way of being in and around Elizabeth’s life that comes across as both fond and destructive. John Lithgow is an equally strong figure, starring as Winston Churchill.
What unfolds over the course of these episodes is not just a look at Queen Elizabeth, but a drama of the lives that surround her and how everyone chooses to make very public lives personal.
While we all know the way the narrative will go in the next series, there is a strong emotional journey to unfold, and one that maybe casts the life of Queen Elizabeth II in a new light for those who don’t pay as much attention.