The one thing The Crown got wrong

And while there was endless grousing about how true to history The Crown was, it was often so close that the fuss was about the details. The assistant to Churchill who died in The Great Smog of 1952 in season one might have been fictional, but thousands did die during that long-forgotten event, one of many the show restored to mainstream culture. The series often worked perfectly as a history lesson wrapped in a family melodrama. 

But the last two seasons gave viewers just what no one needed: more of Diana and Dodi, Charles and Camilla, Will and Kate; all of the tabloids’ greatest hits. The problem was not simply that the story inched closer to the present, although that was an issue too. There are many fewer blanks to fill after the world has read transcripts of Charles and Camilla’s private “want to be your tampon” phone conversations.

A bigger problem is that what speculation there was became strained and less astute. Some of it went wildly off the rails, nowhere more so than in Morgan’s obsession with abdication. Last season, it was Charles’ fictional conversation with Prime Minister John Major about nudging the Queen out, a scene that caused a backlash. A variation comes back in the series’ clunky final episode.

Morgan was clearly straining to cast an eye ahead to acknowledge Elizabeth’s death even though the chronology of the show ends in 2005. In an instalment that crams too many things together, the Queen and Prince Philip plan their own funerals – the green Land Rover he chose as a hearse makes an appearance – and in a true fictional whopper (spoiler ahead), the show suggests that on the very day of Charles and Camilla’s wedding, the Queen was very close to announcing she had decided to abdicate, something every report out there suggests she would never have done barring real incapacity.

The series’ very last shot might unintentionally bring to mind the sketch that went viral after her death of the Queen and Paddington Bear walking away. That laughable connection suggests how far the show drifted from its magnificent beginnings by losing sight of its believably real heroine.

The Crown season six part two is on Netflix now.

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