Her death hit me harder than I expected. She was somehow a constant – a fixture in the world. I think that her death shook so many, including me, because it is not only a loss of one of the world’s great diplomats and world leaders but also because it sets one off kilter. There is so much uncertainty in the world we want to cling to the things that are sturdy, reliable, always there. When one of those pillars goes it makes one feel shaky for the moment.
After her death, my interest in her piqued and I found myself turning on The Crown.
I had only watched the first few episodes a long time ago – but now my interest was renewed.
So many things impressed me in the watching. The first was the devotion and the seriousness with which Elizabeth tackled this duty. She gave this responsibility and duty her all. Her own life needs and pleasures took a back seat. The entire monarchy and it’s future rested on her capable and strong shoulders and she served with dignity and grace for seventy years never taking a wrong step.
I cannot say enough about how perfectly Claire Foy embodied the person and the queen. I also grew to adore Matt Smith’s portrayal of Prince Phillip.
I’ve become somewhat of a Matt Smith fan after seeing his portrayal of the ambitious and ruthless younger brother Daemon in House of The Dragon. Thank God they have Matt or the whole thing would be boring. He never rang my bell as Dr. Who – but I think maybe it was because I was so in love with David Tennant who was the perfect Doctor and how can you top that? Those were virtually impossible shoes to fill – so he seemed a little vanilla to me in the role. But now that I’ve seen him as a dynamic and charismatic Prince Philip in The Crown and sexy as heck in House of the Dragon I think he’s one of the great actors we have around.
In looking back at the abdication of King Edward, we see how close we came to not having the strong and gifted Queen Elizabeth II, the brilliant leadership and courage of Winston Churchill and the valiant British fight against the Nazis. How lucky were we that Edward fell in love with Wallis Simpson.
Among the facts unearthed in the series is the depth of Edward’s (and Wallis’) allegiance to Hitler and how Edward was secretly, or otherwise, betraying the Allies. It was not innocent. He was aware of the horrors and atrocities and even gave up secret information to the Nazis which likely helped lead to the fall of Paris. So, lucky day indeed, that he was so besotted with Wallis that he gave up being a king.
It was said that Edward’s father, King George V, had always hoped it would be Elizabeth who would take the crown. A prescient man.
So many other things we learned while watching. Diplomacy and knowing what the right thing to do is hard. An unerring sense of doing the right thing and a second sense of what will work with the public is a gift—and Elizabeth seemed to have had it.
However, the gift of self control and dependability and some degree of remove and inscrutability that worked so well for Elizabeth as head of state and the dynamism and duty of Prince Philip that made them so iconic fell a little short in the parenting department.
The episode showing Prince Philip’s insistence that Charles go to the Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland where he went as a young man was truly sad. Yes, it was a significant factor in making Philip the man he became. But the blunder was that he didn’t recognize, or didn’t want to recognize that Charles was a completely different person.
Philip was a hard charging dynamic personality; a man’s man. I think on some level he wanted the same of his son, the heir to the throne. He seemed to refuse to see the shyness, sensitivity and more contemplative nature of his eldest son and felt if only he would toughen up then he would change and become more of the man resembling his Dad.
This is one of the difficulties in parenting. One has to parent the child one has. Not the child one wishes one had. Prince Philip did not, in my opinion, parent the child he had. He parented the child he wished he had. It showed Elizabeth trying all she could to let Charles change schools. But it seems that Philip made it virtually a non-negotiable part of the marriage that he choose the school. According to reports, Charles later referred to it as a “prison sentence” but looking back in later years referred to that time more kindly.
In the end, one sees that life has twists and turns. Where we’re born, who we are born to, our natural proclivities, talents, faults and deficits, and even when we’re born– all bear into our destiny. But we can learn a lot from Prince Philip, referring to his father’s abandonment, his mother’s confinement to a mental institution, and the tragic death of his beloved sister and her children when asked how he coped, said “You just get on with it.,“ Wise words.
Charlotte Parker is Editor and Publisher of HeadMagazine.com
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