I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m slightly obsessed with British history. Okay it’s not really a secret. I spent most of my university days with my nose stuck in a Dickens, Austen or Brontë, completely enchanted by the custom, heritage, stiff-upper-lipped rituals, and propriety above all.
When Downton Abbey arrived on our screens my heart did a little somersault. It was all elegant dinners, exquisite dresses, hunting expeditions and acres of lush countryside estate. Of course what made the story so intriguing was the fact that they also showed the humanity beneath this manicured facade, and these are really the bits that fascinate me.
Read Austen and it sounds so romantic – a poor girl about to loose everything who wins the heart of a very rich husband – but there is plenty of critical commentary weaved into the story. Dickens’ takes us into the streets of London and Paris where squalor prevails, and the Brontë sisters created characters with wild hearts, desperate to be free from the narrow lives women faced in those times.
Downton Abbey took us into this beautiful, complex and complicated world of ritual and rites for six seasons, and now the void they have left behind feels severe. Happily I have found something to satisfy those cravings for royal British drama.
The new Netflix series follows the life of a young Queen Elizabeth II from the start of her reign. Visually beautiful and emotionally striking, this story takes you into the heart and true difficulties that each monarch must have faced. Elizabeth took the crown during a particularly difficult time. Fresh from the Second World War, the British Empire was in decline and politically they were in disarray.
Every girl dreams of being a princess, but this might make you reconsider. You are instantly made aware of the weight that Elizabeth must have felt. Duty, living in the public eye, following in the footsteps of a beloved king. The show’s creator, peter Morgan did research into the Queen’s private journey, and he shows us a fragile side mixed with her determination and strength. Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth, also does an excellent job portraying this regal figure with tender humanity, connecting you to her heart, her grief at the loss of her father, the anxiety to take the reigns, and also her quiet power.
I am completely hooked.
The first season, comprising of 10 episodes, was released at the beginning of November and with an overwhelmingly positive response we can expect a second season will follow. So it’s okay to commit to this one.
Have you watched The Crown? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!