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  • Writer's pictureRuth Walker

What I know about The Crown

You’re watching The Crown, aren’t you? How could you not? Such a splendid mix of fairy tale myth and magic, cursed princesses, wicked witches, strangled vowels, and unapologetic day drinking?

My American friends have been devouring season four without the benefit of a filter developed over a lifetime of observing these strange creatures in their natural UK habitat. They have no Spitting Image reference point. No cringe-worthy knowledge of Prince Pheelip’s infamously racist gaffes; the mystery of Princess Maaawgret’s scalded feet; Enne’s passionate love for the Scottish rugby team; the old Queen Mum’s fondness for gin and Dubonnet – an intoxicating cocktail some have attributed her 101 long, happy years #pickled

And who can watch the portrayal of the ghastly Prince Andrew without also thinking about his connection with Jeffrey Epstein?

And yet, just when we start to think of every member of The Firm as unbearably dreadful – utterly, unforgivably cruel/vain/selfish/all of the above – we get a glimpse of such human frailty that we are thoroughly disarmed. Each episode plays with our preconceptions. Layers. Every one of them is layered. Tough exteriors, fragile hearts. Flawed, deeply dysfunctional, and yet somehow relatable and human. Despite their wealth and privilege, are they really so dissimilar from any of us?

The Crown, of course, is not a factual re-telling of history, but a TV drama. So ... pinch of salt. But when Lillibet decommissioned the Royal Yacht Britannia – the vessel on which, legend has it, Princess Diana lost her virginity – it revealed a curiously common touch.

Coming to rest in my home town of Edinburgh, where it remains today, a popular tourist attraction, docked between a shopping mall and a cruise terminal, it gives visitors a disarming insight into the Royal Family at rest; its decor more 1970s bungalow than floating gin palace. The floral sofas match the limply hanging drapes; and of all the beds, there is only one queen (ironically, not slept in by the monarch). The others are meagre twins, skinny little things with homey quilts and few visible touches of luxury. It's all so very ... ordinary.

And this is where my memory deceives me. Because, for all my research, I can't find evidence of what I was certain existed: a Teasmade, the greatest British invention ever – a masterful combination of alarm clock and teapot – nestled by Her Majesty's bed. Her partiality for a cup of tea is well documented, of course (brew first, followed by milk, apparently), so maybe that’s the explanation for what must have been a curious mirage.

And then it occurred to me – perhaps I’m getting my Queens confused …

Anyway, if you're NOT watching The Crown, no sweat. Save on the Netflix subscription and catch up with this instead. It's exquisite.

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