The Crown

The Crown: Seasons 1-4, produced by Peter Morgan

The Crown is intended to be a “made for television” series that will run for six seasons. The fifth season has currently been shown but is not available for download. The series is written and produced by Peter Morgan. The Crown is the story of Queen Elizabeth II from the time of her coronation up to her death. Season 1-4, which I am now discussing, covers the Queen up to about 1990, which would be just before the divorce of Charles and Diana.

Apparently, the series was very expensive to produce. Settings include palace props that I believe were not in the actual location, such as the events transpiring within Buckingham Palace were not actually filmed in Buckingham Palace.

While Morgan is not a historian, he has endeavored to create a story that reflects actual history. Morgan utilized respected historians in the weaving of his tale. A large portion of this series portrays private conversations with family or other personal relationships, or on a government level that could only be conjectured by Peter Morgan as to what actually happened. The reconstruction of closed-curtain affairs might resemble the truth or could be wildly in error. I’m inclined to believe that there is a little bit of both.

This series has come under heated debate, perhaps because it has a disparaging leaning toward the royal family. Numerous independent articles, as well as a book, have been written, mostly in regard to the truthfulness of the series to history. The book, The Crown Dissected was written by Hugo Vickers, who is a royal historian and takes issue with much of the veracity of this series. Yet, Vicker’s issues seemed to be over issues of minutia rather than the general course of what historically transpired. Even with multiple errors, the greater story is not destroyed. Trivial issues, such as the question of who actually burned the portrait of Winston Churchill or whether or not there actually was a “Balmoral test” don’t distract from the storyline. Some articles offer complaints about the factual content of the series, but are written by those who claim that they were “in the know” regarding royal proceedings behind closed doors, though most of the harshest royal conversations had no third-party observer. Besides, an intimate friend of the royal family would be biased to protect the family rather than have the truth be told.

This tv series brings up the issue of historical fiction. One might read James Michener as historical fiction yet be aware that it is truly just fiction within a true historical context. The movie industry offers the pretext that their story is a mostly non-fictional account of past events. Though I am not a fan of “Hollywood” historical fiction, it provides a fruitful curiosity and engages my mind to explore the true histories of events. Usually, there is a blank wall, since most events in life are not historically recorded. Thus, a screenwriter like Morgan necessarily must engage in presumption as to the events which occurred behind closed doors, and, as is said in 1 Samuel 15:23, “presumption is as iniquity and idolatry”. There may be moderate inaccuracy behind the story that Peter Morgan is painting, but there still may be a general ethos of the royal family that is accurate even though the events are only partially true. I’ve watched a number of other historical fiction series including those from ancient Rome, the medieval popes, and 14th-16th century kings of England, and find them informative only in that they get the general events correct. Specific events are dramatized and created to improve the theatric impact. Videntium cave: let the viewer beware.

An minor side comment need by stated since the first season brought up the matter. Those of my dear readers who know me also know how much I detest Winston Churchill. It is true that the Winston Churchill fan clubs, both in the USA and in Great Britain, tend to be drooling, fawning, and adulating folk of all stripes, including conservative, liberal and confused folk. This series did not paint Churchill in a kindly light, but rather as a petulant, arrogant, and obnoxious personality. If pride were Churchill’s only fault he could easily have been forgiven. His deceiving, lying, belligerent manner does not get so easily excused, and his lust for war and incompetence in managing war make him a competitor with Stalin and Hitler for the lowest rungs of hell. (Just my two cents worth)

The western concept of Royalty was based on the mistaken medieval notion of the divine right of kings, a notion that seems to be missing from the pages of Scripture. It is true that all of society is ordered by divine providence, including that of kings, emperors, dictators, Führers, presidents, and any other legitimate or illegitimate potentate. It has rightly been said recently by the head coach of the Boston Celtics Joe Mazzulla when asked what he thought of the royal family (referring to William and Kate Middleton who attended a game involving the Celtics). His response was “Who, Jesus, Mary and Joseph?”. This should be all of our responses when asked about “royalty” since there is only one true King of the universe.

A common answer obtained when I’ve asked many people as to why Great Britain still has a royalty is that it generates revenue for the state. So does Disneyland. The royalty no longer is the leader of the state in the most important matters, which is the duty performed by the prime minister. They may serve as advisors, but usually are marginal in that duty. They may serve as public relations officers, but the prime minister stands as the most important “public relations officer”. Frankly, royalty in today’s world is as useless as an ice delivery service to the South Pole. The British people now have the BBC to entertain them, and they don’t need royalty to accomplish that function. The only entertainment function of the philandering royalty is to generate an astronomical volume of gossip.

I am told that the royalty is not terribly costly to the British government. Last year, British taxpayers supported the Crown to the tune of £104 million, which is a pretty penny in my estimation. Any expense seems in need of accountability, something lacking with the royal household. The royal family does pay income taxes, but that is not obligatory. I presume that property taxes and other taxes are waived. The British government is essentially funding a single family to live a life of leisure and pleasure. Few other people enjoy the delights of having minimal responsibilities, minimal risks, and minimal fears. The only negative aspect of being a part of the royal family is that you live in a glass house. Something in my brain suggests that I am missing something. Am I? Could an entire country be so stupid as to be paying a single “privileged” family massive amounts with minimal return on their investment? The British taxpayer would probably be better off eliminating the royalty, confiscating their properties, and turning their palaces into museums, parks, and public showplaces. The entrance fees alone would probably return much of the £104 million annually that it costs taxpayers. Besides, the castles of the royalty will allow prime minister Rishi Sunak more room to house illegal aliens.

Queen Elizabeth was portrayed as a Christian Queen. She said her prayers before bed. She often attended church on Sundays. She had a heart for the poor and downtrodden. If her true faith is reflected in her children and many of her actions, then we have a problem. Only God knows her heart, and He will deal wisely with her soul. It is not ours to judge her Christian status. I respect her as a past Queen only in that she could have been infinitely worse. Her children and grandchildren leave great doubts in many minds as to the viability and sustainability of the royalty concept in Great Britain. Muckraking, as performed by Peter Morgan, may have done the royalty and image of Queen Elizabeth II a minor disservice. Perhaps the royalty of Great Britain is their own worst enemy and not the imaginative portrayals of the BBC and Hollywood. I probably will not be living long enough to see the final outcome.