Relationships: Accuracy and Influence
In the previous article, the main subject was to present leading characters of The Crown, or more generally, the most emblematic personalities featuring the series. Considering the overwhelming number of people the Queen have known in her life, it would be now interesting to investigate how accurate are depicted her relationships with those said individuals and to what extent they influenced Elizabeth II.
The article will focus on three ties: her marital relationship with the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, her bond with her sister the Princess Margaret and finally her rapport with Winston Churchill.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Nowadays, couples within the British Monarchy are perceived as moving and genuine relationships ─the most representative example being the wedding between the heir to the throne, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and the commoner Catherine ‘Kate’ Middleton. This glamorous love match has recently been followed by the engagement of Prince Harry of Wales and the American actress Meghan Markle. However, these non-arranged marriages are far from being new: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s marriage happened to be one as well.
As a result, first season of The Crown opens on Queen Elizabeth II’s marriage and subsequently follows the life of the newlyweds as Elizabeth succeed her father George VI. However, the first half of the second season of The Crown depicts a rather unusual point of view of the Royal Couple: as the Philip is leaving for a prolonged time abroad, the Queen suspects her husband of infidelity when she discovers the photograph of a ballet dancer in one of his suitcases. The suspicions are getting stronger as Michael Parker, Phillip’s private secretary, narrates his infidelity through letters to the Philip Lunch Club members. Eileen, Michael Parker’s wife, eventually asks for a divorce, leading the Queen to question Philip at the end of his travel. Since the Queen is at the head of the Anglican Church, divorce is not possible. Elizabeth II asks instead what could possibly improve her relations with her husband. As a result, she enables him to have a rank equal to his son, namely, to be a Prince and becomes Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The relationship thereafter appears to be more stable, sporting the image of a reunited family.
In reality, there are no evidences the Prince actually cheated on Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Couple always sported the image a close couple despite the etiquette leading them to display little demonstration of affection in public.
Overall, The Crown mostly dramatized the infidelity question for entertainment purposes.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Princess Margaret
If the dialogues between the Queen and her sister the Princess Margaret happen to be little within The Crown, the series achieves anyway to convey a strong link between the two sisters. While the Princess Margaret embodies the gossip and drama within the Royal Family –from her relationship with Peter Townsend to her marriage with the controversial photographer Anthony Amstrong-Jones- Elizabeth II has to remain neutral as she incarnate the Monarchy as a whole. This strong contrast between the two sisters lead to several tensions –the most notable one being the Queen’s opposition regarding Margaret’s relationship with Peter Townsend due to his first marriage. Nevertheless, the conflict deeply affects Margaret and when the Princess which to marry Amstrong-Jones, the Queen does not oppose to this union this time –despite the more questionable relationship that Amstrong-Jones held.
Once again, the series dramatized further the relationship between the sisters. According to a Royal family friend, Reinaldo Herrera, the Queen and the Princess grew up really close since they could only have each other as companions in their childhood. Nevertheless, as this applies to any relationship the Queen had and has had, displays of affections remained discrete. The only time the deep connection the Queen had with her sister was exposed was during her sister’s funeral in 2002.
Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill
Although Winston Churchill is mainly present in the first season The Crown, the historical figure played an important role in the life of the Queen. Winston Churchill had been Prime Minister twice, from 1940 to 1945 under the Second World War and from 1951 to 1955, leading him to have a close relationship with George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father. As a result, when George VI died in 1951, Winston Churchill had a strong benevolence toward Elizabeth II, almost embodying a paternal figure. He taught her the customs of the weekly meeting between the monarch and the Prime Minister and guided her to follow her father’s steps.
The friendship between the former Prime Minister and the Queen was well-known in real life as well. One event strongly highlights the strong Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill shared. Sadly, it takes place at the funeral of the former Prime Minister in 1965: according to royal rules, the Queen has to be the last one to arrive to an event and the first to leave. However, when Winston Churchill’s funeral took place, the Queen arrived early and left later after the family.
In conclusion, it is rather difficult to pick up evidences demonstrating how accurate The Crown depicts the relationships between the Queen and her entourage. The reason mainly resides in the fact that the displays of emotional affection, whether be it romance, sisterhood or friendship had to remain discreet. However, when it comes to entertainment, viewers are expecting to see the inside of the monarchy. As a result, the TV shows mainly dramatizes the ties among the characters, enabling to have a more dynamic series.
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- Historyextra - Elizabeth II and her prime ministers