NO doubt many of our readers are already avid fans of The Crown, but I urge the rest of you to take some time this Christmas and watch this show, now in its third series, on Netflix.
The Crown is, without a doubt, the most conservative and Christian watch out there. It is so conservative and Christian I am still figuring out how it has managed to be made and whether this was intended. It certainly makes a change from the standard offering that passes these days for ‘entertainment’.
In The Crown, there is an emphasis on continuity, tradition, duty and self-sacrifice. After the death of King George VI, when Princess Elizabeth is returning home as Queen, her grandmother, Queen Mary, explains in a letter that she must say farewell to the old Elizabeth, who has been replaced by a new person – Elizabeth Regina. Queen Mary informs her that ‘duty calls’. She continues: ‘I have seen three great monarchies fall because of their failure to separate personal indulgences from duty. You must not allow yourself to make similar mistakes. It is the Crown that must win, must always win.’ Duty over personal indulgence: this is a profoundly conservative idea.
The Coronation scene is of course infused with Christian symbolism and language and it is the Christian idea of grace that is a character all of its own in the stunning fourth episode of season three.
This episode introduces Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was later referred to as Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark after her marriage. She became a nun and converted to the Greek Orthodox church.
Although parts of this episode are fiction, I found it deeply moving in charting the deep faith of Princess Alice (as she is referred to in the episode) and the relationship between mother and son.
Princess Alice is now living in Buckingham Palace following military upheaval in Greece, and at first Prince Philip resists visiting her, saying that she was never really a mother to him. However, an interview with Princess Alice that featured in the Guardian newspaper helps Prince Philip to understand the reasons behind their separations and he finally visits her.
In this intense scene, Princess Alice is seen praying and then asks Philip how is his faith. ‘Dormant,’ he replies. She says that he must find a faith, for it helps, then goes on to say that it is ‘everything’ and the greatest gift a mother can give to a child.
Prince Philip asks how she coped with all the barbaric treatment she had to endure in her life, whereupon Princess Alice replies she could not have done it alone. In other words, it was the grace of God that helped her endure those terrible times.
I’m not too proud to say that all of this left me quite overcome and in tears. In a further episode Prince Philip is seen seriously struggling with his path in life and indeed his faith. Eventually he seems to recover.
I am sure there is much to criticise, and it is true that The Crown has many factual inaccuracies. However, if you want to be moved, if you want to be challenged and if you want to see something beautiful you could do a lot worse than watch this exquisite series this Christmas.