Note: Potential spoilers ahead about ‘The Crown’ season 5.
For the new season of The Crown, the show’s creator and writer Peter Morgan rolls out the metaphors, ranging from a creaky royal yacht to a fire at Windsor Castle that foreshadows a more serious conflagration. The Netflix series’s central figure, Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton), even puts into words the images that have been implied.
Even the television set is a metaphor in the palace, the United Kingdom’s sovereign ruler mutters as she struggles to operate a remote. In a rare light moment in an otherwise sombre and often sorrowful season, the lyrics “Feel the burn!” from Olivia Newton-John’s aerobics mantra Physical pop up on the TV screen.
Another source of sniggers is Prince Andrew’s mock-horror at his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson’s extra-marital affairs. When Andrew (James Murray) whinges about photographs featuring Sarah “doing something unmentionable”, it’s hard not to think of the now-disgraced royal’s widely publicised entanglement with the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Is the United Kingdom better off with these deeply dysfunctional (and tax-payer supported) aristocrats? The Crown suggests that the bread crumb trail goes back to the early 1990s, to Elizabeth II’s self-declared “Annus horribilis” – a period that saw the monarchy descend to lows that were not thought possible.