From top: A Scene from Netflix’s The Crown; Heber Rowan

The Netflix series, “The Crown” released its fourth season recently and continued to delight audiences around the world. Aside from the stellar performances, writing, and overall production values; let’s discuss what makes it and monarchy for that matter: attractive.

The attraction of monarchy

The series is an illustrious portrayal of a family. That is: royal, that is beyond normal life and will always be. What is their name? The Windsors. The Royal family of Britain. The series depicts the inner and outer workings of their lives unlike any other can be, albeit with a certain degree of creative license. For them, I’d guess it must be ghastly. Sickening. As at the end of it all, they are real living people with their own feelings just like any of us.

Democracy is no perfect system, but at the same time, ancient traditions continue. Certain families in society all across the world and in history, have or have had a monarchy. Why is that? Why does the pomp and presence of royalty inspire such an emotional reaction and the British one more than most? Why does monarchy inspire thoughts of life beyond, otherness if you will?

This would come, I’d argue from the fundamentals of what we value in society and why we value the things we value leading to us to value certain flesh and blood people, royal people.

Britain, in a manner of speaking, is a theocracy, its head of state is the head of its Church, its ‘defender’. The monarch is the link between God and man, classically speaking. Though in life we value many things, not all are equally valued by all in the same way as others. Things are relative. Value is relative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Yet, money is our most exchangeable expression of outward value. We like to have things we value, to get those goods and services, we need money for them. Some of us also value those who value money, have it or have a talent for getting it easily. It is what makes us attracted to those who might impart their skills on to us, or so bestow on us what they have. Others aspire to have it. Some even do so with a near-religious fervour.

In the United States, it is often remarked that a homeless person on the street looks at those with affluence as their potential future. Some day, yes one day… they might win big… catch that lucky break of the American dream. Possibilities are there indeed, but only so many in a country with entrenched racial divisions and inequalities of opportunity. To believe they can be jumped easily is erroneous and unfortunate.

While in Europe, particularly in Ireland. We begrudge those with wealth, we look down upon people who have the success that they’ve created from their own efforts. In some ways, we look down upon them and think, how dare they do this! How did they get that…Who did they screw over to get what they have?

It’s a subtle underlying cultural force. What matters, within this discussion on monarchy and wealth, is that money is an otherworldly thing. It is what is most valued beyond all else. While people do love others intrinsically, changing money within different decision-making processes, makes society largely what it is. An economy is defined by the quotidian actions of its constituent people.

“Economics is the ordinary business of life” — Alfred Marshall

It is to paraphrase from the series itself: the oxygen within all our lives. It is a constant. It is something that is in our lives around us whether we want it to be or not, we, unfortunately, need it and sadly want a lot of it. When an athlete chooses to run a race, they need more oxygen to keep going fast and hard.

Wealth is an aspiration for many. It is considered a manifestation of inner and outer tranquillity while it may not always, in actuality be that. Thought that is what it remains as. The public loved Lady Diana marrying her prince, an actual legally recognised prince. A surreal dream alive for society to see as a ‘fairytale’. That a transcendence from the pains of poverty could happen, that there could be more to the world oh so suddenly and for descendants thereafter.

Stories are people.
All stories are defined by their characters within the context of their conflicts. A balance between the three that can make us forget the world around us and become engrossed. The British royal family are the characters in their own story. For all of its faults, it shows us all that amid all of the wealth, there is conflict, that even royals are people. Flesh.

Conflict and dramatic events are triggers for change within everyone. How conflict plays out over the course of decades with people who can be placed within the context of extraordinary shifts in politics and society pulls us in. Why? Arguably because it allows us to distract from our own suffering. That we can make light of things in the reflection of others be they fictional or real.
There is of course the inherent conflict in The Crown with the nature of their birth forcing them into a life hard to escape from. That is their context. The inner wranglings of duty over personal life, it gives life to the plot of the series that jumps years in the space of an episode.

They live within the constant presence of power within the grandiosity of the walls of their homes. The art and beauty on the walls of their homes are more than the bare necessities of functional design. Such beauty serves to demonstrate the architecture of their power, that there is something beyond the day to day needs. It is also why democratically elected leaders have fine art and beauty within the surroundings of their stately homes and offices. A reminder of the otherness of power. That it is something more,

The British royal family are beloved by many not just because of the vestiges of the British empire’s soft-power, but because of their relatability. They speak English and travel widely engaging with the public where they go. Yes, there have been some members who have done despicable things… but they have kept up an appeal where other surviving constitutional or absolute monarchies haven’t. People want to know about them, gossip about the latest news because it is a fun distraction. Their stories, even mythology are a distraction, from not only the power they implicitly have but from the policy failures of successive governments.

Conclusion

This essay has been a look at a philosophical take on the value ascribed to one particular monarchy. It can be fairly pointed out that the British monarchy is popular due to its ability to adapt to changing circumstances in society, their wish to have increased pomp ascribed to the institution, their personalities and so on.

Monarchies that survive are the ones which are, like a business, able to adapt to the circumstances in which they operate. Stories of monarchy like this television series, are attractive because of rare opportunity to witness decades-long character development and a draw to the opulence of wealth.

Heber Rowan is a Sligo native with a passion for politics. He works in public affairs and enjoys listening to and narrating audiobooks. He can be found on Twitter and occasionally blogs on Medium.com.

Pic: Netflix

32 thoughts on “Easy Lies The Crown

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    I like it because of the talent involved, nothing to do with any admiration of a monarchy. Basically, it’s Game of Thrones with slightly less incest, based on real events.

    Reply
      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        The 50’s/60’s frocks were fab. We’re stuck in the drab 70’s/80’s portion of events. Diana’s wardrobe seems to consist of every outfit in my confirmation class and queenie dresses in various shades of drab with the same hairstyle since she was around 20. But cracking drama altogether!

        Reply
  2. ce

    Emphasis on the “slightly less incest” and I would also add “loosely based on real events”

    I haven’t watched it, maybe if I wish hard enough it will go away…

    Reply
  3. E'Matty

    Haven’t watched the Crown yet but I’d imagine it feels much like watching old Saville presented episodes of Top of the Pops. You love the entertaining shine, excitement, nostalgia and glitter of it all, but you still know he was raping kids (alive and dead) behind the scenes which kind of takes the shine off it. Speaking of which, can anyone tell me which episode of The Crown deals with Lord Mountbatten and Charles’ close friendship with Saville, the prolific child rapist and child procurer for the rich and powerful? Looking forward to the episode in which Saville is proposed as a marriage counsellor for Charles and Di too (true story!). I love the people who watch the Crown and go “Oh, but it shows their bad side too…”. Like foook it does.

    It’s truly weird how it’s considered completely normal to sit down and watch a tv show promoting a very real and clearly sociopathic family obsessed with power and domination over others, with a centuries long history of genocide, slavery, drug trafficking and pushing (at the end of a cannon barrel), mass-murder (literally millions), torture, paedophilia, cannabilism and so much more, right up to the present day, and they are still presented as being not just “respectable”, but the epitome of respectable! WTF? People are such suckers for pomp and pagaentry.

    Reply
        1. E'Matty

          a big fan of paedophiles and mass murderers are we? You seem very upset that I would detail just a snippet of their well documented depravity and criminal history. It’s amazing the things people will ignore and turn a blind eye to when the media dress them in a nice shiny package. And I am deemed some kind of rabid republican or daft for even mentioning it…?

          Reply
          1. Charlie

            Let it go Matty. No amount of whining, revenge, hatred or slagging will make you a happier person. Today’s patriots are tomorrow’s terrorists.

      1. benblack

        It’s actually very good.

        Worth the watch.

        There is nothing comparable, ATM.

        I, too, refused to watch to first three seasons – not my cup of tea, if you like.

        However, I’d watched everything else and everything that was being recommended, I found tiresome – apart from this.

        This is up there with the best T.V. shows ever produced – regardless of the subject matter.

        Reply
    1. v AKA Frilly Keane

      I enjoyed S1 and S2
      However very much developed a distaste, along what you have described there E’Matt
      I’ve noticed a morbid curiosity with S4 now
      Following Thatcher / news of the day
      Got a kick out of trying to name her Cabinet etc

      It is very stylish and well produced
      But it is just telly

      A better discussion would be about the historic realms – FK dabbled in it before
      and what the original – late middle ages, post Black Death,Estates have grown up into
      the arrival of the 4th Estate and their establishment
      and their relationship with us here now in what I call the 5th Estate
      and how we recognise them and which one we are dealing with
      That’s where I thought the writer was bringing us

      I’ll have to do it meself so
      Started developing the theory on BS.tv again there a while back
      linking the race for a Vaccine to globalist interests rather than humanity kinda thing
      with the 4th estate cooperating by not questioning or reporting
      while the 3rd estate were eager participants by chasing €€€€ngagements, and what is in it for them

      In the meantime, all the vices you list there, remain but we blanket them all under Corruption, Deep Pockets etc

      The various olde European Monarchies and The Church(s) of the original realms are now shared participants / players in Globalist interests, all one and the same in the bundle that is Globalism
      3rd 4th and 5th as per
      But the relationships and roles 3 4 & 5 have with the original 1st & 2nd Estates has changed

      The absurdity of it all – is not really obvious in the Crown
      Its telly and its only awkwardness is the fashion and hair styles of the day
      Not the real truth and function of the Crown

      Reply
    2. Rob_G

      Haven’t watched the Crown yet but[another 15 lines of text]

      Amazing that Matty managed to write all that without having watched the programme; saints preserve us from when he actually does sit down and watch something; we will end up with ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ in the comments section.

      Reply
  4. Bertie Theodore Alphege Blenkinsop

    Apart from Succession, it’s my favourite current tv show.
    I love the sets, the scenery, the pomp and ceremony, the acting ( Gillian Anderson is pìss poor in my opinion, she reminds me of a Janet Brown impersonation rather than Thatcher, althought the fact she’s dating Peter Morgan probably helps! ).

    Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles is a revelation and Helena BC never puts a foot wrong… what’s not to love?

    Reply
    1. millie

      Helena and Olivia’s scenes together are an absolute treat to watch. Very much enjoyed the Claire Foy cameo too. It gave me an awful goo to go back and watch the earlier seasons.

      I think this season is much better than the last one, but I’m not finished watching yet.

      Reply
  5. Joe cool

    For me the one person I think steals the whole show is Tobias menzies as Phil the Greek. Hes an absolutely brilliant actor

    Reply
  6. Redundant Proofreaders Society

    Quite anti-monarchy in this camp, and less interested in the failed royal marriages and scandals…but oh, the history! The Crown covers international events of the 20th Century pretty well from a British point of view, e.g. Suez Crisis, JFK and wars. There are the uniquely English events such as the abdication of Edward VIII, London smog, constitutional crises – and the uniquely Welsh events such as republicanism and the Aberfan tragedy. It’s a series of short history lessons wrapped up in top class performances, of-the-day costumes and props, cinematic imagery and drama.

    One point that Irish viewers are tweeting with regards to Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher – the acting and personal characteristics are fantastic – but what an absolute witch she was.

    Reply
    1. v AKA Frilly Keane

      She has Thatcher to a tee
      no doubt about it
      particular the halting and pausing slo mo speaking style
      like she’s talking from behind loose dentures
      and someone who wasn’t a bit shy about the type of woman she was
      Big Hair, Pussy Bows, Aprons, Earrings etc
      Along with the thundering Beeatch
      Fuss Flouncy but belligerent and bullish with more testosterone than her entire cabinet

      its just physically it can grate
      Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher is so slight and petite

      Reply
  7. Lilly

    I’m late to The Crown so I’ve started at Season 4. What struck me most was how ludicrous it was to see Margaret Thatcher curtesy to the Queen. What happens when she meets a foreign head of state – I presume she met Mary Robinson – do they shake hands? It seems utterly ridiculous, how does either party keep a straight face.

    Also, wasn’t it a little odd at the time that no one seemed to register Charles’ whatever-in-love-means comment as a massive red flag.

    Have to admire Harry’s bid for freedom. Hope he can pull it off.

    Reply
  8. Clampers Outside

    Tommy in the early seasons was a proper kick ass character. No idea what the actors name is but he stole the screen in every scene he was in, loved him :)

    Reply
    1. Clampers Outside

      We’re in the middle of a binge on it… started watching only last week. Just a few episodes into season 3 now.

      Reply
      1. Redundant Proofreaders Society

        Ah yes, he was in Poldark.

        His Tommy Lascelles is great, especially the diction. An old-school Brit using excessive words to say something simple.

        Reply

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