The Crown and the Jester’s Cap


By Jason Michael


Television during times of recession is interesting in that it has a nasty habit of waving under our noses the lives of the super-wealthy great and good. Now we have the Crown to keep us entertained with the fabulous privileges of a German family.

Peter Morgan’s The Crown is a television dramatic masterpiece for sure, and indeed crowns the recent additions to the entire genre of fawning at the wealth and privilege of times gone by we have been subjected to during the lean years of economic austerity. It takes the black tie fetishism of Mr Selfridge and the upstairs downstairs ridiculousness of Downton Abbey to a new level; that of Buckingham Palace in the early years of Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg und Gotha’s reign – or is that the final years of the reign of that pompous and conceited old ass Winston Churchill?

In the main it is historically accurate, and Claire Foy’s characterisation of a young “Lilly-Bet” is faultless, but that didn’t stop it all being a massive, whopping lie. It was honest about the sickening racism of the monarchy when it came to dealings with Britain’s African colonies, but ignored altogether the connection between a number of members of “the Family” and the Nazis. We know of the abdicated Edward Albert and Wallis Simpson’s affection for the politics and charisma of Hitler, and the photo of the young Princess Elizabeth giving a “playful” Sieg Heil salute is in the public record, but all of this was ignored – even when the discussion of fascism was central to the unfolding story of the new Elizabethan monarchy.

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Edward VIII giving the Nazi salute, 1937

To the very end of the last episode the outdated assumptions of monarchy are defended as something essentially British, neglecting to the end the factuality that both Britain and the Crown are myths. In these latter years of Mrs. Saxe-Coburg und Gotha’s reign we have learned from politics in the United Kingdom that there simply is no Britishness. This too is as constructed and mythical as the idea of monarchy itself. The only time in the series this opinion was aired was when the disgruntled Edward Albert asked, while watching the coronation in his apartment in Paris, “Why would one have a head of state when one can have magic?” But he was bitter.

What we have is an institution inhabited by people who rightly ought to be in an institution that lays claim to power and privilege on the grounds of magic, mystique, and… well, lies. It lives (read: thrives) on the taxpayer as a parasite at a time when a growing number of taxpayers are genuinely struggling to feed their children and keep roofs over their heads. Keeping a roof over her head has recently too become something of a concern for Betty. It has become clear that her pile in London is crumbling – much like the monarchy itself – and that the hungry taxpayer will have to cough up no less that £369m to keep her and her underemployed family of toffs in the life to which we have allowed them to become accustomed. More fool us.


The Crown | Thematic Trailer


Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

 

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