With a £100 million budget, ten episodes, and a promise of six seasons in total, each covering a decade of the reign, The Crown has been one of the most hotly anticipated shows to grace the online screens of Netflix. With a star-studded cast, including Claire Foy, Matt Smith and John Lithgow amongst others, the show has been hailed by critics and fans alike.
The first season, of which all 10 episodes were released on 4th November, covers her marriage to Prince Philip and the first few years of Elizabeth’s reign. Claire Foy has a natural command and great humanity as Elizabeth, a monarchy being brought to a level of understanding and openness. She has gentleness in the role and doesn’t shy away from exposing the emotion of a monarch. Matt Smith brings a steely gravitas to the role of Prince Philip, striking an incredibly delicate balance between father figure who cares a lot about his children, and a man who has been torn away from what he wanted to do and pushed into the limelight as the husband of the Queen of the Empire.
“the series makes an effort to remain accurate to the historical reality”
It is evident how the copious budget was spent on the show. Lavish sets include incredible recreations of the front of Buckingham Palace, the inside of Westminster Abbey, and the various rooms that the Royal Family occupy. The series makes an effort to remain accurate to the historical reality of the period. With flashbacks to Elizabeth’s childhood, we are given a peek into the aspects of history that perhaps are considered less, notably the impact of the abdication of Edward VIII . Perhaps the episodes feel a little too distinct from one other; issues from earlier episode sometimes fail to make an appearance later in the series, even if subsequent episodes happen within months of each other, but this does not deter much from the otherwise excellent storytelling.
“the show is sure to be a huge success in its further seasons”
What is reinforced most throughout the show, above the tension in Parliament and the growing distrust of the British colonies towards the monarchy, is the idea of family. Whilst it may be strained at times – the controversial relationship between Princess Margaret and Captain Peter Townsend, Queen Mary’s strong dislike of Edward VIII and even the difficulty that Prince Philip faces as he adjusts to life as a British royal – family is ultimately at the heart of the show. The Crown does not shy away from the problems that both the Queen, and those around her, had in the first few years. Instead, they lay them out on the table and remind those watching that these people, who seem so different to us “commoners”, are in fact no different and face similar problems, just in different circumstances.
The show is sure to be a huge success in its further seasons. It is wise to avoid overdramatising the Royal Family, as other American funded shows, namely The Royals, have done. However, if this series is an indication of what is to come over the next six series, whenever they may be released, it is a sure sign of greater things to come from Netflix and its continued growth into original television.