While the previous seasons of The Crown may have seen a longing for times gone by. The idea of monarchy was romanticised, expensive jewels and extravagant gowns made the viewer long for what seemed like simpler times.
Viewers living through a pandemic desperately need a Downton Abbey type of escapism.
This season of ‘The Crown’ is far more likely to have viewers constantly reaching for Wikipedia as they ask ‘did that really happen’?
The directors in their own way, rebel against the crown that had been the beacon of light in seasons gone by.
This season brings all the skeletons out of the royal cupboards. Long lost cousins hidden away in mental illness institutions are discovered, countries in the Commonwealth slowly begin to turn towards Republicanism and the average English citizen living in a Semi-D endures the wrath of the woman coined ‘The Iron Lady’. The assassination of Lord Mountbatten near Classiebawn castle in Sligo, is the only snapshot we get of tensions in Northern Ireland. The event is quickly forgotten about by the grieving characters, as another storyline comes to the forefront.
As the seasons have dragged on, the role of men within the series has taken a back seat. This is the story of Diana (a stag shot and hung up in the palace as a keepsake). It would have been easy to mistake The Iron Lady (when Meryl Streep played her in 2011), to be a role model for young women in a patriarchal society. Yet, Gillian Anderson’s (a part time sex expert in another Netflix favourite) version of the character sets the record straight. The hairspray, the over-elaborate curtseys and the complete disregard for human life fuels a hatred that almost all characters in the show bond over.
The depiction of Princess Diana’s struggle with bulimia, depression and lack of support (to put it lightly) within the royal family, could not have come at a more relevant time. It is all too easy to compare Megan Markle’s current situation with that of the former Princess of Wales. Princess Diana’s story is brought to a whole new generation, and they have not reacted kindly to the actions of the Prince of Wales, Secret phone calls, rendez-vous and necklaces would make even the most cold-hearted viewer empathise with the young woman’s dilemma.
Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles. The thirty-year-old is already gaining Paul Mescal (with or without his chain) levels of fame on social media. While Emma Corrin mimics the actions and eye rolls of the people’s princess to a tea.
A stag is depicted at the very beginning of the series. We all know that this stag is unlikely to make it off the royal family’s land unscathed. This is a Cinderella story, that went so very wrong and shows us what happens when we don’t hold powerful institutions to contempt.
While previous seasons may have been about the Crown, it is clear that season 4 and possibly subsequent seasons will be centred around the stag, the young woman in rollerskates who comforts herself in a lonely castle with episodes of Bagpuss. This Rapunzel has already been saved by her prince, which seems to be the root of the issue.
While Princess Margaret may have been a subject of comic relief when she was played by Vanessa Kirb, Helena Bonham Carter’s depiction of a woman who deems herself as doomed to be abandoned by the men she loves brings a far more serious element into the show. It brings English society’s attitude towards mental health to the forefront as the chain smoker admits that she was brought up not to sulk and to get on with it, whatever it is.
Bonham Carter did extensive research into her role, to the point of using a medium to make contact with the late princess’ spectre. It shows. Bonham Carter does not do things by halves. Her flamboyant energy on screen is mesmerising as her family battle to stay relevant in a world that questions the need for their existence.
An episode where the Queen realises that all her children are as problematic as the other gives us our first glimpse of Prince Andrew. This is a glimpse; we would far rather forget. Netflix is far from subtle as they detail the erotic novels about virgin teenagers that Andrew raves about.
This star-studded cast gives access to all areas to a part of a society that has always puzzled even those closest to it. While Twitter conspiracies, Instagram trolls and constant news updates may not have been a thing in the time that this series depicts, they are now. This season passes on a series of secrets to the smartphone generation. It is unlikely that these secrets can ever be swept under a carpet again, even if it is royal.