JANET STREET-PORTER: Why I’m boycotting The Crown: The Queen has to put up with enough without listening to silly actresses psycho-analyse her
The chances of my life being turned into a drama (with four marriages it would surely be a soap) are zero, so I’ve never bothered to spend time fantasising about who I’d choose to play the lead (but since you ask, I’d be happy with Madonna OR Grace Jones).
The Queen doesn’t have that choice - this Sunday, series three of The Crown launches on Netflix, followed by a podcast for addicts who want more gossip and interviews with the stars. Her Majesty will have the dubious pleasure of seeing yet another actress attempt the impossible - playing a woman they know virtually nothing about.
Mind you, that hasn’t stopped the latest Elizabeth, Olivia Colman, becoming an instant royal expert - telling us that the Queen’s ‘the ultimate feminist….and a breadwinner’. Riveting insights from someone who confessed to pinching the toilet paper in a downstairs loo at Buckingham palace. From petty pilferer to ‘left-wing monarchist’ (in her own words) in just a matter of months, co-incidentally, after she received her CBE from the Princess Royal.
This Sunday, series three of The Crown launches on Netflix, followed by a podcast for addicts who want more gossip and interviews with the stars (left, Queen Elizabeth II as she attends the annual Remembrance Sunday memorial at The Cenotaph on November 10, and right, Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II in the new Netflix series)
All episodes of the drama – which sees Miss Colman take over from Claire Foy in the starring role – will be available by on Netflix on Sunday
No-one involved with the multi-million production that is The Crown has bothered to seek an audience with the real star, Elizabeth, for insights into her extraordinary life - for the obvious reasons - it spoils a good fantasy. Imagine asking the Queen if she’s happy seeing her daughter Anne in bed with Andrew Parker Bowles, wearing saucy underwear? A scene which has led one over-enthusiastic male to re-brand Haughty Anne as ‘the Frisky Filly’.
Fans of the Crown don’t really care how accurate the drama is, they want bonking, fabulous frocks, tantrums and lashings of pageantry - a bit like Elton John’s film Rocketman, but set in a palace, peopled with snooty posh courtiers.
The Crown’s award-winning writer, Peter Morgan, claims his narrative is based on court circulars, that ‘everything (the royals did) was minuted…we know where they were’.
But do we? We don’t know what they said in bed, how they arranged to meet lovers and who really cheated on who. When it comes to extra-marital action, the Royal family put us all to shame.
In truth, we know very little about what the Queen thinks about anything, and that is her greatest acheivement. We know what she doesn’t do - anything touchy feely, she’s not a fan of lateness or changes to a rigid schedule which involves visiting her palaces in rotation. The Queen wasn’t a hands-on parent, according to her own children, and she’s never had to cook - Philip takes charge of their annual barbecue in the chilly winds at Balmoral, although her Majesty helps with the washing up.
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies as The Duke of Edinburgh, appearing in the third season of The Crown
It’s hard to feel sympathy for someone who is Supreme in so many ways, richer than 99% of her subjects, who has more walk-in wardrobe space than Beyonce and a hat for every occasion. Someone who is never argued with, who walks in front of her husband (thus avoiding listening to his unfunny jokes), and who can end an audience with Boris Johnson or any of her other Prime Ministers whenever she chooses - whereas the rest of us have to listen to their insincere promises day in and day out.
It’s no surprise that the Queen has always preferred talking to her dogs and her horses rather than humans. She can always get a decent glass of wine, a nice supper (no loading the dishwasher) and a good night’s sleep.
The downsides of being Queen are obvious - days of stifling pageantry, endless ceremonies opening things, the weight of the actual Crown and worrying about whether it will wreck your hairdo. Having to wear gloves all the time because of the hand shaking, when you’d like a fancy manicure and maybe fake nails. Yearning to wear clothes that don’t need a brooch, pearl necklace and matching earrings, and secretly wanting to wear comfy leggings and a puffa jacket on days when you can’t be arsed to dress up and you’ve piled on the pounds with all those banquets.
In spite of all her wealth and the choice of homes, I do feel a little bit sorry for the Queen. It must be creepy to be played by Claire Foy, and now Olivia Colman, who has become your best friend even though you’ve never met. And what about the sundry cast members who feel obliged to offer us their insights on all your loved ones, even though they are just reading out lines and taking a big fat wad of cash for perpetuating a lot of half truths and fairy stories about the world’s most famous family?
JANET STREET-PORTER: Can I give the Queen a bit of advice? Cancel the Palace subscription to Netflix and stick to Radio 4’s The Archers. It’s packed with horses and dogs and very little sex
I enjoyed Matt Smith playing young Philip, but I had to keep reminding myself this wasn’t an episode of Dr Who set in a 1950’s palace. Meanwhile Helena Bonham feels her rendition of Margaret will be spot on, because she consulted a medium. You couldn’t make it up. I feel sympathy for the Queen because her sister died in a lot of pain after a horrible accident, and I wonder how Margaret’s children feel seeing their mother portrayed as a cross between a bonkers party animal and a willing participant in a one-sided marriage.
Putting on the glamourous clothes worn by aristocrats seems to have made some of the cast feel very important. Tobias Menzies, (Philip in Series 3) tells us the Duke of Edinburgh ‘had real wit’ and was ‘less posh’ than the family he married into, adding, ‘but I’m still a republican’.
As if seeing another version of her life in the Crown wasn’t weird enough for the Queen, this week sees the publication of the second volume of Kenneth Rose’s diaries from 1978-2014, including Charles and Diana’s disastrous marriage. Rose was a huge gossip who dined with toffs almost every day and then went home and wrote up every little bit of tittle tattle.
He reveals that Princess Margaret said the Queen ‘was too busy to bring up Andrew and Edward’ and that Diana was ‘apparently not very clever’. He reports Raine Spencer saying that ‘Charles and Diana have separate bedrooms…and she never seems to want to touch him.’
There are hundreds of pages of this stuff. The Queen must be dreading (that following the Crown) these diaries get turned into a telly drama.
Can I give the Queen a bit of advice? Cancel the Palace subscription to Netflix and stick to Radio 4’s The Archers. It’s packed with horses and dogs and very little sex.
I’ll boycott the Crown in solidarity, and if I receive another invite to the Palace (the last visit I received my CBE from the Queen) I can be trusted not to steal anything from the downstairs toilets. Unlike some people.