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Valuable History Lessons from The Crown
English or not, there’s much to learn from and admire about the latest Netflix original series
1. Queen Elizabeth II took the throne as matter of duty not desire
“This young woman had a massive responsibility put on her at time when she’s grieving and she’s had a terrible loss to death of her father. And then her whole life changed,” explains actress Claire Foy who plays Elizabeth in the period drama in an interview for The Telegraph.
Elizabeth, or Lilibet as she was called in her younger years by close family, was initially third in line to the throne. But following the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII and the death of her father, King George VI, Elizabeth assumed the role of queen in 1952. She has since been the Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and 12 other countries.
2. It’s not just a story of a family but the story of post-war Britain
The Crown traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the time she got married in 1947 to the present day.
On family: “…And going out in public, the queen particularly wearing the mask of the Queen. But I think what our series does is it strips it away and we get to see them be human and exposed,” elucidates Matt Smith who plays Prince Philip, the husband of Elizabeth in the show. The Crown attempts to give audiences an idea of the responsibilities of a monarch and the difficulties that come with being the Queen of Britain, including putting a strain on one’s personal (and later political) relationships. In the trailer, you’ll feel the tension between Elizabeth and Philip early on, with the latter shown snapping, “I will not kneel before my wife!” then saying “What kind of marriage is this? What kind of family?” The trailer also shows friction between her and members of the British royal family, like her sister Princess Margaret.
Trivia: Queen Elizabeth fell in love with Prince Philip when she was only 13 years old. The pair started exchanging letters before getting engaged in 1947. Elizabeth was 21.
On post-war Britain: The UK may have been one of the victors of World War II, but was similarly faced with economic challenges. Thus, the late 40’s became a time of austerity (trivia: the queen required ration coupons to buy material for her wedding gown) and cutback. It was also around this time that it gave independence to major colonies, marking the end of the great British Empire. On the upside, the post-war era saw the formation of the United Nations, with the UK being one of its founding members.
3. The fact is, the crown must win. Must always win
“I have seen three great monarchies brought down through their failure to separate personal indulgences from duty. You must not allow yourself to make similar mistakes,” warns Queen Mary.
One thing we’re sure of, King Edward VIII was among the monarchies Queen Mary mentioned. Edward, the uncle of Queen Elizabeth, acceded to the throne in January 1936 only to renounce his kingship 325 days later to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.
Watch The Crown only on Netflix on November 4.