Here we’re presented with a vision of Elizabeth as a character who’s always trying to meet the ideal of the crown, holding herself to an impeccably high standard – but for the first time, we see it slip. And that’s both fascinating in terms of the character, and hugely significant for the drama; it’s one of the rare moments in which we see what lies behind the mask (or under the crown, if you will).
What makes it so effective, though, is the contrast presented between Elizabeth and Margaret, with another tour de force performance from both Vanessa Kirby and Claire Foy. The two sisters are caught in each other’s orbit, each jealous of the other – and there’s a vein of snarky bitterness running throughout, which allows both characters to really sing. Here, after all this time, we’re getting to see Elizabeth as flawed.
Picking up on the idea introduced in Gelignite, The Crown here continues to depict Elizabeth as unwilling to share the spotlight. It’s a fascinating idea – a slight thread of arrogance, creeping in at the edges, as the young monarch becomes just as much an extension of the institution as everyone around her. Indeed, it also raises a topic that the series has danced around for some time now – just how much should we care about these people anyway?
I suspect that in a lot of these reviews I’m coming across as someone with a particularly personal disdain for the monarchy in general. I’m not – or at least, I wasn’t until I watched The Crown!