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The Crown (2016) Review – Netflix’s Sweeping Biographical Drama About Queen Elizabeth


The Crown (2016) Review

Netflix is making a prominent niche in the world of television and miniseries. Their most recent original, The Crown, takes a stab at period drama with a biographical drama about Queen Elizabeth II.

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We meet the young princess the day before her wedding. Apprehensive about the great weight and covenant that comes with marriage, with nervous reverence Elizabeth (Claire Foy) speaks her vows. In front of God and England’s most senior gentry, she marries Philip (Matt Smith), Duke of Edinburgh. Before he marries Elizabeth, he first becomes a naturalized citizen of England, renouncing his ties to his Greek and Danish ancestry. Their early years are happy and the arrival of two children completes their family.

But their happy life is about to crumble around her. Elizabeth’s father, King George IV (Jared Harris) is in ill health. Though he tries to hide his declining condition, he knows the truth: his time is slipping away. This prompts him to send his blissfully unaware daughter and heir on a tour of the commonwealth. While on this trip, accompanied by her husband, Elizabeth receives devastating news. Her father died quietly in his sleep.

This engages Elizabeth in an entirely new role. One in which she returns to England as its Queen. Her duty is now to the crown, a representation of the relationship between God and state. Furthermore, it’s a symbol that changes her relationship with her mother (Victoria Hamilton); sister, Margaret (Vanessa Kirby); and even, her restless husband.

When the press first announced this Netflix series, I was immediately intrigued. This is especially true since I’ve never seen a period drama produced by Netflix, so finally seeing the kind of series they would or could produce was of particular interest. Whether right or wrong, I generally judge period dramas by what I consider the gold standard of the genre, which is the BBC or ITV.


Happily, this Netflix series matches this standard. The elegance (including an incredible score) took my breath away. One might think a period drama first set in the ’40s might lack in the qualities a Victorian drama boasts. But this one is every bit as beautiful. From the cinematic angles sweeping the palace halls to the glamorous era of fashion, The Crown is an unforgettable experience. Its creator, Peter Morgan is no stranger to royal families. He also wrote such films as The Other Boleyn Girl and the Oscar-winning film, The Queen.

Those who have doubts about The Crown should begin with none. I won’t attest to its accuracy but do feel there are roots of truth in each script. Taking place over ten, hour-long episodes, the speed at which this begins surprised me. I didn’t realize we’d meet Elizabeth the day before her wedding nor did I expect the leap over her early years. In retrospect, this wasn’t unnecessary because Elizabeth’s (romantic) relationship with Philip isn’t primary. Or isn’t the sole objective.

The Crown intentionally questions Elizabeth’s purpose and role as the queen. What does it mean to her and her family, and the state? What does the crown mean? How should she use the titles she wears? Furthermore, the interesting aspect about this series is that it asks this of multiple characters. From Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary (played by the incomparable Eileen Atkins) to her mother, and finally Elizabeth’s uncle (Alex Jennings). Her uncle is Edward, the king who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. Also, a prominent part is Elizabeth’s relationship with Winston Churchill (John Lithgow), her Prime Minister who gives a standout performance.

Flaws and all, this story swept me into its world, a world I found fascinating. The scripts are also well penned and the cast like a parade of great talent. Jeremy Northam, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Greg Wise are just a few of the familiar faces you’ll see. The tension between the Queen, and the changes in Elizabeth is captivating. Though politics play a key part in this series, it’s really the stupendous character arcs that keep us glued to the screen. In particular, I was most engrossed in the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip, and also the conflict between Elizabeth and Margaret. (A relationship strained in the aftermath of Margaret’s love affair.) Some of the royals are portrayed in a distasteful way, which is a stark contrast especially in light of the films that introduced them prior to this.

The Crown

Though the ending is bittersweet with many things unresolved, this is a splendid period piece about an extraordinary woman.

Stream The Crown exclusively on Netflix.

Content Note: There are 2-3 uses of the f-word (over ten episodes), 1-2 coarse words in a sexual context, and a handful of sexual gestures or innuendos (i.e., a woman draws a man’s hand between her legs). A woman engages in an extra-marital affair. There are two instances of male backside nudity.

Did you watch The Crown? Sound off below with your thoughts! I’d love to read them. 

Photos: Netflix


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By on November 16th, 2016

About Rissi JC

Rissi is a self-diagnosed Bookaholic and TV fandom addict. She’s currently an avid blogger and reader who enjoys interacting with readers, and often dreams about finishing her first novel. When not writing or reading, she can be found working as an INSPYs advisory board member or contributing to e-zines. Her scribbles are housed on her blog Finding Wonderland (https://www.rissiwrites.com).

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10 thoughts on “The Crown (2016) Review – Netflix’s Sweeping Biographical Drama About Queen Elizabeth”

  1. I started to watch this, but having been to Boarding School in Berkshire, England and watched Prince Phillip over the years, I was horrified by how badly Prince Phillip was cast in this series. Prince Phillip always was debonair , good looking his hair didn’t look like a toupee,(wig) witty sarcastic and much talked about for his escapades. The actor in question is ugly ,his hair a disaster, and no-one could imagine woman after woman falling for him. I found the whole thing spoilt by every apparition this ghastly man made and didn’t manage to watch one episode through to the end. Netflix can keep this one! An American must have done the casting! Ugh@!!

    • You’re certainly free to have your opinion but I rather like Matt Smith and don’t find him as hideous as you say. He played the Doctor in Doctor Who and many women are fans of him. Also, it’s mostly a British production that teamed up with Netflix. The creator is the British writer, Peter Morgan. And the show was cast by British casting directors, Robert Sterne and Nina Gold. But not every series is for everyone.

      • I discovered Matt Smith as the Doctor, Amber, and will confess, I loved him in that! 🙂 Also, he’s hilarious in the recent Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

        • What’s up with his hair ? Is he bald? Prince Phillip always was sophisticated ,totally natural ,hair and lots of it. That man is wearing false hair. I’m English and he’s just not anything like Prince Phillip. I’ve also been to Garden parties at Buckingham Placa and met him in person,, when I was a teenager, so , terribly sorry. doctors are doctors and Princes are Princes!

          • Prince Philip had lovely, natural, unruly blond hair as a teenager, just like Matt Smith’s (which is all his own, I assure you.) By the time he married Elizabeth, he had begun to smarm it down with pomade which made it look flat and thin. I notice that,towards the end of this series, MS was beginning to do the same. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think he is an excellent casting choice. He has a huge number of fans who find him very attractive. The important thing is: he has great chemistry with Foy and there is both a romantic and a sexual tension between them. I think he manages to capture a feeling of Prince Philip and, moreover, he has a great bum! Wonderful series. I binge-watched this and revelled in the fact that it wasn’t just QE2’s history but my history too. It was lovely to relive all the memories. Thank you for the review, Rissi!

          • Glad you enjoyed this one! I thought the series was fabulous, and seemed like it was a thorough, interesting look at Elizabeth’s early reign. 🙂

          • I’m not so sure that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. That’s what people say when someone is ugly. If it were 100 % true we would never had had Super Stars like Robert Mitchum, Robert Redford, Clark Gable, George Clooney, Brad Pitt. Screen charisma & looks are judged by the majority. I have found anyone apart from you that thinks that man good looking OR charismatic!

    • It’s never fun when a series doesn’t live up to expectations, something I’ve experienced a few times. :/ Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this one, Geraldine.

  2. I am loving The Crown! My boyfriend has been watching it with me, and he’s getting more into it than I had originally thought 😉 We’re both massive Doctor Who fans, and it’s interesting seeing Matt Smith in such a different role. Claire Foy is fantastic. It’s neat talking about the characters and the history that is happening on the screen. A great show, and one I highly recommend!

    • I agree, Piepie. It IS interesting to see Matt step into this role. The characters are very different. Like you, I thought both he and Claire are amazing in the roles, and the history is fascinating. Glad you enjoyed it as well! It’s one I recommend too. 🙂


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