The Mail: The Crown is lurid, portraying Charles as devious, impatient, resentful

The Mail: The Crown is lurid, portraying Charles as devious, impatient, resentful

11/01/2022

The British royal commentators are playing a dangerous game with Netflix, The Crown and the monarchy. Their gleeful commentary about the “lurid, unflattering” Netflix series shows their eagerness to exploit all of these tragedies all over again, all while assuming an air of performative fury on behalf of King Charles. Does Charles really understand what he’s unleashed? Netflix is laughing all the way to the bank, especially with Salt Island’s media giving The Crown millions in free publicity. Even more than the free publicity, the commentators are making The Crown sound like the most epic royal takedown ever. The Mail’s Christopher Stevens has seen the whole (still embargoed) season 5. And he couldn’t help but throw a huge tantrum about all of it.

There are no depths of bad taste that writer Peter Morgan does not plumb in the new ten-part series of The Crown on Netflix. Divorces, infidelities, the most intimate conversations, the infamous interview with Princess Diana and Martin Bashir, even the death of a five-year-old from cancer, all are exploited for lurid drama. As the eight-and-a-half hours of new film were made available to journalists last night, under a stringent embargo, the sheer virulence of the storylines became shockingly clear.

Charles, Philip and at times the Queen herself are portrayed with disdain bordering on mockery. A teenage Prince William is also shown in an unflattering light, as slightly dim and sulky, though his younger brother Harry is let off lightly and barely features. Netflix may well find that, with the international grief and mourning that marked the death of the Queen less than two months ago, viewers’ appetite for royal muck-raking has disappeared.

Insiders at the streaming video giant say the mood in the company is already uneasy, with some American executives surprised by the backlash from fans who fear the death of the Princess of Wales will be re-enacted in graphic detail. This series stops short of that moment. It ends with Diana, divorced from Charles, preparing for a Mediterranean holiday with her friend Dodi Fayed.

Full reviews, with assessments of individual performances and an analysis of how far the script strays from historical fact, are embargoed until Saturday morning. But no spoiler alert is needed when I say that this series of The Crown is unrecognisable in its tone, compared to the original series in 2016. This show with its almost unlimited budget and all-star cast has become a monstrous perversion of itself.

At the beginning, The Crown charted the affectionate romance of the Princess Elizabeth and her prince, the Duke of Edinburgh, played with touching vulnerability by Claire Foy and Matt Smith. But it has descended into scandal-mongering, intent on inflicting every possible embarrassment on the Royal Family. The Crown is now a nakedly republican polemic, using embarrassment as its chief weapon against the monarchy.

Chief victim is the monarch himself. Perhaps Morgan and his Netflix paymasters imagined, like most of us, that the Queen would survive, ruling above reproach, for a number of years to come – and that the Prince of Wales was fair game. Certainly, none of the preview episodes (labelled, it ought to be said, as ‘work in progress’) carried an acknowledgment of Her Majesty’s death. Any viewers expecting a respectful caption, saluting her 70 years on the throne, will be disappointed.

But from the outset, the campaign against Charles is lacerating. In scene after scene, he is depicted as devious, impatient, resentful, devoid of self-awareness in his desperation to be king. This prince is a plotter whose mind works constantly, even during holidays with friends, on ways to dislodge his mother and force her aside. His aides talk of little else.

Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles – now the King and Queen Consort, a fact shamefully ignored by Netflix – suffer greater indignity still, with the replay of that excruciating phonecall. Dominic West as Charles and Olivia Williams as Camilla, then his married mistress, re-enact every word of it… including that awful extended metaphor about being reincarnated as a tampon. It is performed without mercy, and to emphasise the humiliation we see the reaction of other royals when the transcript is published. Princess Margaret reads it in bed. Diana holds her head in her hands.

[From The Daily Mail]

Charles “is depicted as devious, impatient, resentful, devoid of self-awareness.” “The Crown is now a nakedly republican polemic, using embarrassment as its chief weapon against the monarchy.” DON’T THREATEN ME WITH A GOOD TIME!!! Omg, I was genuinely worried that Peter Morgan was going to soft-pedal some stuff but I guess not! Apparently, Diana’s Panorama interview stretches over two episodes, which is pretty fair – it was the biggest f–king thing to happen to the monarchy in decades. I love all of the agitation about “they didn’t acknowledge that Charles and Camilla are king and queen now” and “they didn’t acknowledge QEII’s death!!” My dude, this is a dramatization of what happened in the ‘90s, not a documentary. In fact, the monarchy has run a huge campaign against the Crown to emphasize that it’s not a documentary. Anyway, one more week!!!

Photos courtesy of Netflix.

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