The Crown. A review and a reflection.

We like googlebox. Because we like comedy. After a long day, when you are exhausted but not enough to go to sleep, and you want to watch something that will just make you laugh … there are many excellent professional comedians, and of course we have our favourites but that would be enough for another post.

And then, we were told, and we agreed, that the not-professional, ‘normal’ (what is normal?) people who were recorded watching tv made more brutally hilarious comments than any we had seen.

The program has had other perks, which again could do for yet another post. One of them has been to know about other good programs. And that is where this is going to: The Crown.

I seem to remember that it was already when watching those people watch it on googlebox that they were commenting that it didn’t matter if you were a monarchic or a republican. It was just good telly.

Yes it is good telly. To the extent that it almost does not matter that its subject matter is an institution we do not approve of. It is so anachronist. But it is good telly. It is so good telly it could just be telling a completely fictional story. The added value with it being a true story is that we know most of the names, we have heard them before, or read about them, in the news, in gossip columns. And those that we have not heard about, we go to the nearest encyclopaedia (wikipedia for instance) – and there they are! With a biography. They are all real characters.

Some times you wonder, did this really happen. How can they know if this scene was like this, if it is only the queen and the duke in that room. Did they interview them? But other times the doubt disappears and the pleasure is double, like when you see the prince consort telling his children: Look there are no photographers now. We can hug. And there are people present, so you think, this really happened, there were witnesses and it is not that difficult to contrast them on that. That scene in particular is nice and believable. For example.

But then, being the good telly that it is, it does have a specific subject matter. The Crown. The Monarchy. And as much as we want to centre our attention on the individual characters, the personal drama … There are whole episodes on personal “sacrifice”. In some’s views, the some times huge sacrfices, some times hugely stupid sacrifices some have to make for the survival of the institution.

There were times (around medieval, game of thrones style) when women were given in marriage in exchange for a peace treaty. Sold by their families in the name of peace, or the survival of a country, or its prosperity by means of the union of two crowns, that would hopefully, and some times eventually, lead to the union of the two countries.

But now countries do not function like that. Modern states do not send a female member of the royalty or noblety to seal a treaty.

In the show, we do not witness any arranged marriage. We do witness the enormous pressure to arranged break-ups before marriage. Arranged non-marriages. The very real menace of being shunned by your very own family if an inconvenient marriage is sought. And the sacrifice, for what. It was not Britain that was at risk with the wedding of any of those royals with a divorcee. Nor the peace. The sacrifice was not for the survival of any other than the institution of the monarchy itself. For the preservation of the position of one family in the monarchic system of succession and with it, its privileges, namely lavish palaces to live in with an army of servants, and very, very well-paid jobs for life.

The monarch who abdicated in order to marry a divorcee from USA renounced to (a big chunk of) that. Not that he lived in misery ever since, but he was indeed shunned by his own brother and his family – no more family reunions, indeed not with his wife. The queen’s sister found herself in a very similar situation. Rather than facing her uncle’s same fate, she renounced to the (first) love of her life.

For some reason, after monarchs lost their political power, they and their families are supposed (by their supporters, I guess) to be ‘examples’ of ‘morality’ of sorts. It seems to be what transpires from this show about the British crown, and from what I hear in Spanish talk shows about the Spanish crown too. It is not something that either population has ever been asked about, but for some reason it is assumed by the ‘learned’ elites.

In my opinion, what this show highlights into relevance is the stupidity of these ‘sacrifices’. Yes it can be argued that ‘they deserve it’, as they have so much wealth most their subjects could never even imagine. But putting their wealth aside. We know the monarchic institution is anachronistic and it is difficult to understand why the members of this particular family can not benefit from the advances that the rest of us can, namely, for example, divorce when you know that your husband is smitten with a ballerina. Or marry the man you are in love with if he is divorced. These people are related with the head of a church that incidentally does not approve of certain freedoms.

What I feel that this show does, is, it kind of puts the idiocy of these sacrifices right on the flesh. We see in the actors’ faces how these choices tear them apart. And I wonder what this tearing does to convinced supporters of the monarchy as an institution. I wonder if the human suffering would touch every one enough to wonder, do we, does any one really need this suffering, for any greater good. Do we need these people to live so obscenely rich and well suffering for our good?