“The Crown” recognizes the legacy of royal women

From the first woman Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to outsider Princess Diana, “The Crown” reveals how women have defined this period of royal achievement.


by Lauren Brackney, Twitter Editor

I went into watching “The Crown” blind. I had little knowledge about politics within the United Kingdom or the royal family. I watched the fourth season, the most recent season of the show, and was immediately overwhelmed with all of the characters. My viewing of the first episode was spent trying to figure out who was who, who was related to who and thinking about how beautiful the scenery was.

With the help of a quick Google search and the subtitles, I found that they are all basically related to Queen Elizabeth II  in some way, which explains why they are called the royal family. Looking back, I wish that I had seen some of the earlier episodes to better understand the characters so I could understand more of the drama and tensions.

One of my favorite parts about the show was its cinematography. Every scene was shot  perfectly in landscapes that were simply stunning. Scenes of rolling countryside, Australian coasts, icelandic rivers and grand architecture left me wishing I were a princess just so I could explore them. 

When I started watching this season, I felt compelled to dislike much of the royal family. They all seemed like snobbish and difficult people. I liked the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, because she was somewhat a refreshing figure having come from no large wealth or status and worked to make a name for herself. In the second episode, the royal family makes fun of Thatcher and her husband for wearing a formal, “black-tie” outfit to tea, which I thought was ridiculous of them to care so much about something so meaningless.

Even though I started out the show cheering for Thatcher, I grew to have some problems with her. Despite being a woman in politics, she had no interest or support for other women in politics and said that she didn’t want her cabinet to consist of any women simply because they are too emotional. 

Later in the season I found that she was a major hypocrite because when her son went missing, she was unable to focus on her role as Prime Minister and obsessed over the search party for her son. Ordinarily, I would have more sympathy for her — she is at her core a mother concerned about her son – but since she refuses to give the same sympathy to other women, I had a difficult time continuing to support her. 

Prime Minister Thatcher and Princess Diana were the main ,new characters in season four. Along with the rest of the world, I immediately fell in love with Lady Di. She married Prince Charles early in the season; she seemed so happy and in love with him and ready to be princess. Unfortunately, Prince Charles did not feel the same way towards her and their relationship would slowly get worse as the season progressed.

Right before their marriage, Prince Charles had a bracelet made for Camilla — his lover who happened to have a husband and family of her own. My heart broke for Diana when she discovered it and then again when Charles lied through his teeth saying that it was a going away present for Camilla. Diana, being the sweet and loving person she is, believed him and followed through with the marriage.

It was so awkward when Charles tried to make Diana and Camilla friends because it was clear that Camilla still had feelings for him. It was even worse when Charles moved his family to the same town that Camilla lived. Charles!! He wasn’t even trying to be subtle about his infidelity!

It frustrates me to my core listening to Prince Charles complain about how nobody appreciates him and that Camilla is the only one that understands him. I honestly can’t comprehend how Camilla is able to stand Charles and his constant insatiable demands. “The Crown” recognizes that Charles is undeserving and that this is not his story to be told —it is Diana’s. 

I liked how “The Crown” told the story of not just the Royal Family but the women that make it up and interact within it. Each woman has a unique story and personal battle that the show tackles. For example, Lady Diana struggled with an eating disorder before she got married but it seemed to get worse as she faced the stress of her marriage and all the publicity.

I thought that it was interesting how the show addresses Princess Diana’s eating disorder; rather than talking about it much, they showed it. She would binge eat and then minutes later force herself to throw it back up. So much secrecy went into her disorder; she would turn the sink on to hide the noise and kept it from everyone for several years. Each time she would do this she looked so frustrated and lonely. She just needed someone to comfort her.

I appreciated how they didn’t dramatize her eating disorder unnecessarily and helped open the conversation about eating disorders. Neither Princess Diana’s family nor her husband ever talked to her about it or tried to help her. Seeing the characters, especially the Queen, talk about her behind her back then ignore her when she reached out for help just broke me.

In addition to eating disorders, the show also brings to light mental health and mental disorders that took place within the Royal Family. Princess Margaret, the queen’s sister, struggles romantically which has made her feel alone. Prince Charles, surprisingly, steps in and tells her that he has been talking to a therapist and recommends that she sees one too. Prince Charle’s one redeemable moment was when he thought about someone other than himself and helped Margaret seek a therapist.

When in therapy, Princess Margaret learns more about her family than she ever anticipated. The family had cast away its members that were born with disorders and would even say that they were dead while they were still living. Margaret rightfully felt betrayed and repulsed by this family secret and tried to find out more about the family that she had lost. I thought that it was especially heartwarming seeing Margaret care so much about her family, especially those that had been treated so poorly. 

Titles like “Queen” or “Prince” make them seem like they are superior, unflawed human beings when they are much more simple. They struggled with infidelity, mental illness and compassion. I feel like The Royal Family is often romanticized because they keep so much of their private lives hidden from the world so there is more room for fantasy. “The Crown” has made me realize that they are just like any family, they aren’t perfect and can be dysfunctional at times. Every family has their own secrets and problems and the Royal Family is no exception.