TV series 'The Crown' brings mourners closer to royals

First aired in 2016, it charts the queen's journey from a nervous 25-year-old neophyte to a national institution in herself



Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix

By AFP

Published: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 9:24 AM

As Liz Butler stood among the crowds of well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace, she couldn't help asking herself if she was living through a future episode of hit TV series 'The Crown'.

Like many of those flocking to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, Butler was a big fan of the Netflix show that has offered viewers a glimpse — albeit fictionalised — inside royal life.

"I wonder, will they try to put all this in it?" mused Butler, 68, as the new King Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla swept by, waving from the royal car.

'The Crown' — one of the streaming giant's biggest successes — has been credited with helping to shape (and in many cases soften) perceptions of the royal family for new generations.

First aired in 2016, it charts the queen's journey from a nervous 25-year-old neophyte to a national institution in herself, as she guided the world's most famous monarchy through decades of scandals and upheavals.

In the days following her death after seven decades on the throne, there was reportedly a huge spike in the numbers clicking in to watch the series.

In Britain, viewership shot up 800 per cent on the week before, in France it tripled, and in the United States it quadrupled, The Guardian newspaper reported, citing figures from Whip Media.

A fifth season charting the tumultuous period in the 1990s, that saw the monarchy rocked by the split of the queen's son Charles, now king, from his wife Diana, is set to go out this autumn.

Filming is currently going on for a sixth season as well, although it was halted for a day after the queen died.

Virginie Verrez, who had decided to stop by the Buckingham Palace on her work trip from France, said she loved the series — especially the first two seasons about the young queen assuming the role.

"I found out so much about this family ... I didn't know much, in fact, and now I've become quite interested in the members of the royal family," the 33-year-old told AFP.

Verrez said she followed the drama as Prince Harry and his wife Meghan quit the fold, and issued broadsides against the royals, in interviews from the United States.

"I understood better how the British monarchy works, but I'm happy to live in a republic: as all this seems pretty archaic."

Sanna Wintren, 34, who had come from Sweden with some of her friends for the weekend, laid a bunch of flowers in memory of the queen.

"In Sweden we don't care as much about our royal family," she said.

Yet, Wintren became hooked on 'The Crown' from the moment she saw it.

"I got Diana-obsessed after ... I've seen every documentary on her I could," she declared.

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The last season to air drew some criticism in the UK for taking too much artistic licence and allegedly portraying Charles excessively negatively over his treatment of his ex-wife.

Wintren insisted that for her, however, the show had "humanised" the new monarch.

"I understand him better: he was not allowed to live his love story," she said.

German Andrea Geldmann, 66, brushed off accusations that the makers had strayed too far from the truth, and lavished praise on the series.

"I love 'The Crown'. It's really well done," she said.

"I have more affection for the queen."

Gai Reckless from Australia agreed that she now had "more sympathy" for Elizabeth II.

"I did not know before how much she had to leave in order to become queen."

However now, as the final curtain falls on the life of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, there was a clear sense that a last chapter was being written.

"We're witnessing the end of the series here," said Verrez.


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