As an audience, we’re used to seeing Queen Elizabeth II as an elderly lady in colourful suits surrounded by corgis – but who was she before the big hats?
Netflix explores the Queen’s rise to power in their new series, ‘The Crown’. It is reported to be their most expensive production yet with a budget of £100 million. So what did they spend all that money on?
The 10 part series follows a young Elizabeth (Claire Foy) as she is thrust into power after her father’s death, and the strain her new title places upon her relationships, especially between her and her husband Prince Philip (Matt Smith).
As with all Netflix shows, the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking as well as the intricate set designs and stunning costumes. One of these such costumes includes a replica of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding. The period setting is a breath of fresh air and a welcome relief for anyone who is missing Downton Abbey.
The series is a slow burner, focusing on the inner mechanics of The Royal Family, as well as Winston Churchill’s twilight years as Prime Minister. The strained relationship between the young queen and the government is evident as she tries to appease her husband and do her duties as the ruler of Great Britain.
The show focuses on the power imbalance between Elizabeth and Philip, as he struggles to come to terms with his wife being in control. There is also a heavy focus on Elizabeth’s uncle Edward VIII who abdicated the throne to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson, and the increasingly tense bond between Elizabeth and her younger sister, Margaret.
The theme of relationships and the strain power can put on them is prominent throughout the season. Each episode focuses on a new crisis in Elizabeth’s early days as queen, including deadly smog that engulfs London for four days, while also portraying the controversy surrounding her coronation.
The cast is extremely strong, as Foy breathes life into an almost untouchable figure as the young queen, making the audience root for her success. Smith’s portrayal of Prince Phillip, a far cry from his turn as the quirky eleventh Doctor Who, plays the part in such an endearing but unlikable way it is hard to fault. John Lithgow takes the formidable Churchill at the end of his career and portrays the war politician in a completely different light, with Vanessa Kirby taking on the one of the most interesting roles as rebellious younger sister Margaret.
It is reported that Netflix has greenlighted six seasons of the show to follow Queen Elizabeth’s rule throughout her entire life. The slow pace may turn viewers off the usually lively Netflix originals, but with patience it is definitely worth the watch.