It doesn’t seem like a betrayal to admit the double view while watching The Crown. With rumors budgeting £ 10m per episode, Peter Morgan’s soap-royal saga is stunning to look at – yet it’s nearly impossible to get past every bit without consulting Google in an effort to separate royal fact from fiction..
The fourth series sees the movement carry over to the 1980s, showing the rise but mainly the decline of Prince Charles’ relationship with Diana, the future Princess of Wales, as well as Margaret Thatcher’s divisive contract at number ten.
It’s fertile ground for a playwright like Morgan, who has made clear that he values the « basic truth » of the story ensuring that every date and detail matches the historical record.. It is a flash drama and not a documentary after all.
Still, it is still fascinating to reveal the political controversies and royal rumors that shaped his scenarios. From Her Majesty’s crowd with our first Prime Minister to storming Buckingham Palace, we’ve put some of the series’ best storylines under the microscope..
The confrontations of Olivia Coleman and Gillian Anderson are among the highlights of Series 4: Watching two of our best actresses face off is a major show in passive aggression.. But was their relationship lukewarm as Morgan sees it? « We have a full and documentary scrutiny of Thatcher’s beliefs and actions while we don’t have anything about the Queen because that’s the case, » says Clive Irving, author of The Last Queen.. . One is Ferrago, the other is a benign mystery. « So politically, The Queen is a blank canvas – which means there’s plenty of room for Morgan to fill with a creative license in the service of great drama.
Thatcher actually had so much respect for the monarchy (perhaps that was why Anderson chanted « Your Majesty » as a golom swings « Oh my dear ») often arriving 15 minutes early for her royal audience – just to get the Queen to wait. The Iron Lady found a more sincere supporter in the Queen Mother, who, as Standard Jobson editor Robert Jobson says, « used to be called » dear lady Thatcher « and praised her for » her patriotism. « .
As shown in the series, the sanctions against South Africa were definitely a sticking point between the Queen and her Prime Minister, shaped by the Queen’s enduring loyalty to the Commonwealth.. African heads of state were concerned about « Thatcher’s reluctance to confront apartheid, » says Irving, and « shared the Queen’s impatience, although I doubt she would ever express it. ».
The groundbreaking Sunday Times reported on these tensions to the public in 1986 – the headline « Queen Upset By An Indifferent Thatcher » remains so explosive that Morgan didn’t feel the need to change it in his series. Irving recalls, « It is important to realize how shocking that story was to readers – that the Queen believed her prime minister was » indifferent, confrontational, and divisive. « . . “Nothing of the sort had been revealed about her feelings before, and Thatcher immediately granted her denial. However, “this did not rise to the level of being a constitutional crisis” – although the media turmoil, which began just three days before the second royal wedding in the decade, threatened to encroach on Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s day..
The weekend at Balmoral is a minefield of potential bugs, or so the legend goes. There are seats for pervert (Queen Victoria’s favorite chair should remain empty, as Sabrina Guinness, one of Charles’s girlfriends, is thought to have learned the hard way). There is a triple hit of luxurious country endeavors to be embraced – hunting, horseback riding, and fishing – and certain outfits should be avoided, as we found out in Episode Two (Thatcher paddles around in highland mud with a kitten heel and Tory-Blue twinset is definitely one of the most silly moments in The Crown).
“The queen loves balmoral and all the jungles found in the highlands that accompany it,” Irving says.. “Many ministers from various governments hate to go there to undergo this ritual. Thatcher had neither interest nor sympathy for her. However, the « test » itself is a bit more accurate than the upper layer hitch path we see on screen. It’s not quite the equation as presented, Jobson reveals.. « But it is a good way to introduce the idea of royal protocol that Americans like.
Young Diana (Emma Corinne) gets her « lady » confused with « Their Majesties » and senses her shouts. Enter fearsome grandmother Lady Fermoy, who gives her a crash course in arts. Every little thing in The Princess Diaries – although Julie Andrews never tied her hands together with a rope to prevent her gestures. As the Queen Mother in the bedroom, Lady Fermi (Georgie Glenn) was well aware of the nuances of palace life and perhaps « she could have had an input in [telling Diana] certain things that you could do that you couldn’t do, » he says. It is even rumored that she and the Queen’s mom engineer a match between Diana and Charles, although there is no record of any official lessons about the princess.. The relationship between her and her granddaughter was lukewarm: Diana was famously crying when she described her as a « troll » in most of the ’80s’ anti-fashion murders, by wearing leather pants.
It’s astonishing to think that a subject of the Queen could simply scale the railing of Buckingham Palace to find himself face to face with Her Majesty, with two cloudy eyes in a Liberty print nightie. However, this is exactly what happened in the early hours of July 9, 1982, when Michael Fagan managed to storm the inner sanctuary of the Sovereignty.. “There were a lot of concerns about security,” Jobson says – and he’s right. Fagan, a painter and decorator, entered the mansion undiscovered the previous month. The intruder swallowed some wine before, ahem, to comfort himself « in the pooch’s food, because he couldn’t find a toilet » (fortunately, these details were not entered into Morgan’s copy).
On his second visit to Windsor headquarters, « alarms were sounded, » but « the police didn’t take the matter seriously, » Jobson explains.. As tempting as it may be to imagine the Queen engaging Fagan in a short, tacky talk (« Have you come a long way? ») Her response was less calm, as he ran out of room to summon her trusted man, Paul Wipro. He gave Fagan some whiskey before calling the police. Three decades later, ‘Tall Paul’ (a.k.a. as opposed to ‘Little’ Paul Burrell) continued a supporting role in another royal scene: he made a cameo at the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, striding through the corridors of the palace with his boss and James Bond.
The Crown carefully charts Diana’s changing relationship with the press, from a young character to an avant-garde of media to be reckoned with, thrilled to perform stunts like dancing on stage at the Royal Opera House with Wayne Sleep (yes, Uptown Girl was her favorite song). Meanwhile, her husband appears terrified. « Of all the royals, she was by far the smartest in understanding that her strength in dealing with [the rest] of the royals is the media by her side, » Irving says.. « There was Diana’s bias in all of the coverage from the start. The Crown perfectly corrects this, without overdoing it – after all, Charles (Josh O’Connor) is as complex as any Prince of Shakespeare..
Regarding that strange moment when Diana sat on Charles and turned on the VCR, which made him watch her perform a spin-off from the Phantom of the Opera as a birthday present? (Her husband later described her as « savage, » and we are inclined to agree. There’s not even a hint of an urban legend related to it, thank goodness (although the Princess of Wales did actually attend the Phantom Opening Night). It seems to be simply one of Morgan’s strangest fictional journeys.
Series 4 of The Crown is now available on Netflix. The Last Queen by Clive Irving is out now (Biteback, £ 20)
The Crown, Michael Fagan, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace
World News – AU – Sifting Royal Fact from Fiction in the Fourth Crown Series
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