Learning history through books, movies, and TV series is a favorite pastime of many people. One of the best shows currently is The Crown, which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II, how she became queen of the United Kingdom, and how she adapted herself and her family to the work of the sovereign. Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1953 and has reigned more than 65 years, so we will have many more episodes to look forward to in future seasons.
The first two seasons of The Crown cover Elizabeth's ascension through the birth of her last child. The third season has just been released on Netflix and will cover the queen's life from 1964 to 1977, a time in which Britain faced a period of decline, politically and financially. Each season highlights certain big events that occurred during those years - political crises, Elizabeth’s personal relationships, and world events. Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and Vanessa Kirby star in the first two seasons, while the third season brought on new actors - Olivia Coleman, Tobias Menzies, and Helena Bonham Carter - to portray the main characters as they grow older.
While the history is interesting in TV dramas, the facts aren’t always exact. Even Shakespeare reworked historical events and invented or combined people in order to heighten the drama and make his plays more enjoyable. The Crown is no different. Characters are added to make situations more understandable, the conversations behind the palace walls are mostly fabrications, and events have been altered to fit them together smoothly. However, the drama more than makes up for the inaccuracies. I often read a biography or look up the details to determine what is fact and what is fiction.
If you like historical dramas or British television, you will enjoy The Crown. With award-winning acting and excellent staging, this opportunity to watch queens, princes and princesses in their ordinary and extraordinary lives has never been so entertaining. While the series is streaming on Netflix, you can also borrow the DVDs of past seasons.
The companion books, also entitled The Crown, are an excellent way to check up on the facts and are filled with photographs of the shows, plus behind-the-scenes peeks.
Of course, you may have already watched all three seasons and are waiting for Season 4 or waiting your turn to watch Seasons 1 and 2. In either case, these books and films may be a great way to fill your time while you wait:
A&E covers the life of Queen Elizabeth II, including both her public and private lives, from childhood to the 21st century.
A sympathetic, well-researched look at the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
A look at Queen Elizabeth's long life and reign through the eyes of those who know her and those who have studied her life.
This narrative draws the reader into Queen Elizabeth's life behind the scenes with its ups and downs.
A unique approach to the life of Princess Margaret, using diaries, interviews, and other published material.
An authoritative guide to the British royal families throughout history with many color illustrations and explanations.
With access to the royal household and their papers, the author gives us a respectful, positive biography of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
A backstairs look at the life of the Queen Mother and her relationships with other members of the royal household.