The Crown Is Now Too Real

Photo by Cristian Negraia on Unsplash

I have long been a student of history and have loved exploring the history of many of the world’s royal families. I have traced my own family lineage back to the year 770, so far. And in this lineage, there is scattered through my own fair share of those with royal and titled ancestry.

I have enjoyed immensely the first three seasons of the Netflix show The Crown. It was steeped in history and the magic of fairy tales with princesses and kings and war and peace. Sweeping stories of historical significance.

Yes, there was also the tragic tales of Princess Margaret never allowed to be happy and the death of the Queen’s father, along with abdication and a monstrous world war. But more so it was the fairy tale with castles, beauty, and magic.

The Queen is famously quoted as saying that the she must be seen to be believed as if without that she is a mythical creature living in a tower imbued with divine rights and far above mere mortals. I think most of us would like to believe that rather than the truth of what being Queen and being a person in a family under that Queen is really like.

Yes, I know that the television show is fictionalized. I know that many of the parts of Season 4 were “added to” for creative license and impact. However, I do believe that the core of all that fiction was the truth. And in the middle of the season and at the end, I felt not entertained, not educated, not in a world of magical fantasy but sad.

I am not so much sad for the people of the royal family as I am for the loss of the magic of my enjoyment of it. They are now people who by birthright or conquest came to be the Windsors and they are prisoners of their own creation. Most of them unhappy in some way and out of touch with reality and real people in so many more ways.

What made me most sad though is that the devastation on the psyche of the members of the family is truly something to be pitied. They can no longer be magical myths when they are or were lacking emotions, bound by enforced duty and directives, depressed, anxious, lacking courage, unfaithful, lonely, with eating disorders, repressed, and sad.

People will say, but it was just made up for television, and parts of it were. However, again, now that we are much closer to current time and there is so much evidence, factual, real evidence, that so much of what was in Season 4 actually occurred just as it was portrayed or even possibly worse than it was portrayed, that is no longer fiction. It is just sad.

The Queen comes from a time in history where duty, doing what one had to do, carrying on no matter how difficult, was a way of life. This was her generations highest belief system. There was no shirking duties, or not doing something because you didn’t want to or didn’t feel like it, or abandoning a marriage or the crown. You just carried on.

This was and I am sure still is her expectation of members of her family. However, times have changed considerably since World War II and if people no longer want to be married or do not love their spouse they expect that they do not have to keep living with them. If people want to give up royal duties and life, they expect that they can do so (as Prince Harry as done). If people want to marry someone outside the expected or arranged they expect that they are able to do so. It must be very hard for the Queen to reconcile these things.

Season 4 of The Crown has brought back for many the very angry feelings they had towards Prince Charles and Camilla regarding Diana. Even to the point of people making very rude comments on posts by the two of them on social media. But all of that is in the past and cannot be changed. And no one, not a single person in the family or outside of it, was innocent in all that happened.

Instead of anger, I think sadness is the emotion not from the television show, as I know that it is fictionalized. But from what I know to be true through the multitude of evidence. I liked to pretend like watching the Royal family in their “dressed up” or “mythical” state could cover all of the things that were just too real and not magical at all.

They are just people with a lot of issues who have a lot of money and big houses who ended up in the right line to the throne. Underneath all the royalty, they are just struggling to be loved and to love, to be happy, to live. Just like the rest of us.

Unfortunately, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret were never able to have those things.

And speaking of Princess Margaret, Helena Bonham-Carter was the one shining light in this sad season. Her portrayal of a woman who was forced to give up the things she wanted most for the good of the one, the crown was heartbreaking and magnificent. Not much about this season was worth praise for me, but her performance was majestic and I do hope she is rewarded with all the awards possible.

In totality however, the show was just too real, too close to the truth and a complete stripping away of the magic, the mystery, the sparkle off the crown. And it just makes me sad.

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