If there’s anything the Hillary Clinton campaign has shown us, it’s that until now, female leaders don’t have it easy. Even when they’re ahead of the pack, they’re subjected to immense scrutiny and criticism, with the public and their political opponents examining everything, from their personal lives as mothers and wives right down to the cadence of their speech.
Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne is a contemporary example of a woman taking charge of her nation at a politically charged time. Netflix’s new show The Crown is based on her early days as the new queen with Claire Foy (Wolf Hall) playing her and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as her husband Philip. Based on Peter Morgan’s play The Audience and with a budget of a whopping $156 million, the show recreates Elizabeth’s reign as a young lady, navigating both the politics of her country and her bedroom.
It’s one thing to have the trappings of power but another thing to wield it, and The Crown recreates the challenges she faced to cement her place in history. In some of the show’s juiciest scenes, Smith acts out the insecurities and apprehensions of Philip, being married to the most powerful woman in the country. “Are you my wife or my queen?” he asks her, to which she replies, “I am both.” Not everything is in order with the royal family, and their marital turmoil threatens to derail her rise to power.
But the bigger struggle she fought was against certain members of the prevailing political establishment. Following a string of male monarchs since the death of Victoria, Queen Elizabeth took the reins of her country right when the purpose of the crown itself was being questioned by Winston Churchill, played here by John Lithgow. With the British Empire waning after the Second World War, her role in the modern world was under question, leaving it up to her to prove her place in Buckingham Palace.
With Stephen Daldry (The Queen) directing this show and Peter Morgan behind its creation and writing, The Crown promises to be an intriguing and engaging period drama.
Stephen Daldry’s The Crown will premiere on Netflix on November 4.