ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Private and Public through The Crown

Netflix series The Crown illustrates the constant tussle between the public and the private for the British monarchy.

In the first season episode “Smokes and Mirrors” of The Crown (Netflix), there is a scene between the United Kingdom’s (UK) Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip where the queen agrees to her husband’s proposal of televising her coronation. This in return for his kneeling before her—the new queen and monarch—in the ceremony. Baffled because he is her husband, and not just any subject, Philip asks Elizabeth to make an exception. He argues that being her husband grants him the rightful status to walk beside her rather than kneel before her in the presence of the public. But the queen refuses, asserting that although she is his wife, she is also the queen, and there should be no insecurity in kneeling before the sovereign.

This scene joins the dots between the public events and the private lives of the royal family, and the constant and continuing tussle between their public and the private spheres. In the post-war period, around the time of the queen’s coronation, the idea of the monarchy had taken a beating, with increasing ruminations of democracy and the fight for civil and individual rights. Prince Philip’s decision to broadcast the coronation ceremony on television was part of a realisation that to survive in a modern world, the monarchy had to be more accessible to the public. In another similar instance in this fictionalised historical drama, as the royal family grapples with the thought of opening up more to the people, Lord Altrincham writes a searing critique of the queen and the monarchy’s archaic and regressive ways of conducting things. In this episode (“Marionettes,” season 2), he is invited to Buckingham Palace for a meeting. Perturbed by the wide public criticism, the royal family finally agrees to most of his suggestions, including televising the royal Christmas messages and increasing people’s access to the family through Garden Parties at the palace—a modern tradition of inviting people from various classes and professions, that continues to this day.

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Updated On : 12th Jun, 2021
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