As someone who loves history, I’m quite happy to see how popular Netflix’s The Crown has become since it first came out back in 2016. Even for those who aren’t complete history nerds like me, there’s something so fascinating about Britain’s royal family – no wonder nearly 2 billion people tuned in to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018!
At the center of the Royal Family stands one, unflagging woman: the stoic, tireless Queen Elizabeth II. Beloved for her quiet reserve and kind-hearted nature, the Queen is the longest-reigning monarch in the history of her country. First crowned in 1952, a couple of months before her 26th birthday, Elizabeth has remained queen of the UK and other Commonwealth realms for the past 68 years.
Just imagine how much she’s seen throughout those 68 years! Sounds like perfect material for a TV series and, as The Crown has shown, it is.
What Makes The Crown Great
The Crown takes viewers from Elizabeth’s 1947 marriage to Prince Phillip all the way to the present-day. In the process, we see history unfold through her eyes. Unlike reading a history book, the series portrays important events in a much more engaging way: happening in real-time to characters in a true-to-life drama. I can’t recommend it enough!
If you’ve seen people talking a lot about this show recently, it’s because Season 4 just dropped on Netflix on November 15. Season 4 covers the period between 1977 and 1990. During this time, Margaret Thatcher – the famous “Iron Lady” – served as Prime Minister of the UK, and beloved Princess Diana was married to Elizabeth’s son, Prince Charles.
One great thing about The Crown is that – unlike so many other TV shows and movies based on true stories – it’s very historically accurate. In Season 4, you’ll see how Margaret Thatcher (played by Gillian Anderson, mostly known for her role as Agent Scully in classic 1990s series the X-Files) became the first woman Prime Minister of the UK and, in fact, the first female head of government in any Western country.
Margaret Thatcher – The “Iron Lady”
As head of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher embodied conservative ideas. She was a staunch anti-communist and felt that every person was responsible for his or her own destiny, and government interference in the economy or peoples’ lives should be as limited as possible.
Her ideology – known today as “Thatcherism” – was reinforced by her own upbringing as the daughter of a self-made, successful grocer who went on to become mayor of her native town, Grantham.
Throughout her premiership, she privatized state-run companies, limited the power of trade unions, and reduced government expenditure on social programs. For Britain – which had built-up an extensive welfare state since the end of World War II – this was and continues to be controversial.
Throughout season 4 of The Crown, you’ll see Thatcher’s sometimes tense interactions with the Queen, execution of the Falklands War, and eventual downfall.
Diana – The People’s Princess
The other focus of season 4 is on Lady Diana Spencer, better known as Princess Diana, played by Emma Corrin. Diana was born into the British minor nobility in 1961, eventually marrying Charles, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne.
Diana was the first to bring a “human face” to the British monarchy, going out in public with her children and touring around the globe (in season 4, you’ll see her and Charles visit Australia and New York). Her shy, humble persona endeared her to many people. Princess Diana campaigned for charity causes and brought positive attention to those who were affected by cancer, mental illness, and the AIDS epidemic.
Unfortunately, Charles proved to be unfaithful to her, and the couple formally divorced in 1996. Diana tragically died in a car accident in Paris in 1997. As season 4 only runs up to 1990, these events won’t be depicted until season 5.
For more information on the “behind-the-scenes,” true-to-life story of season 4 of The Crown, check out these videos provided by Netflix on Youtube.
Photo & Video Credit: Netflix