The Crown Season 5: Small Details You May Have Missed

6 months ago

The Crown Season 5 unfolds with riveting tales that delve deep into the annals of the royal family’s history, shedding light on some of the most scandalous events that have captivated the world. As the widely acclaimed series continues its exploration of the British monarchy, viewers are invited to witness a dramatic portrayal of the intricacies, controversies, and behind-the-scenes revelations that have shaped the course of regal history. Join us as we investigate the details of the most scandalous episodes, providing insights into the impeccable storytelling that continues to make The Crown a compelling and iconic portrayal of royal life.

A brief recap of the events from the preceding Season 4 for a quick reminder.

In the last installment of The Crown Princess Diana, portrayed by Emma Corrin, and Prince Charles, played by Josh O’Connor, experienced a less-than-festive Christmas at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. They had unsuccessfully sought Queen Elizabeth’s, depicted by Olivia Colman, approval for a separation to escape their troubled marriage.

However, in the fourth season, both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, portrayed by Tobias Menzies, adamantly rejected the idea of a future king getting a divorce, treating Diana and Charles as if they were disobedient children.

The fifth season featured an entirely new cast, and viewers witnessed a significant transformation in Diana and Charles as Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West took on the roles. Portraying them as mature individuals who are no longer insecure and subservient to the dictates of the royal machinery, this new portrayal reveals a determination in Diana and Charles to seize control of their destinies, even if it means causing unprecedented collateral damage within the British monarchy.

Symbolism of the Queen and The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Crown masterfully employs metaphors and symbolism, and Season 5 is no exception, particularly in its exploration of The Royal Yacht Britannia in connection to Queen Elizabeth. Delving into the subtleties viewers may have missed, Episode 1 unfolds with a black and white flashback featuring Claire Foy as the Queen, delivering a significant speech about her newly commissioned Royal Yacht, the Britannia. This vessel, we learn, holds not only personal importance for her but for the entire royal family.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, Imelda Staunton assumes the role of the Queen, expressing concerns about the yacht’s maintenance and drawing parallels between it and another palace. Despite likening it to a palace, the Queen asserts a stronger connection to Britannia because she played a pivotal role in its commissioning.

Simultaneously, as public opinion surfaces in British newspapers, indicating a desire for Queen Elizabeth to step down, criticisms of being “old” and “stuffy” abound, with a consensus favoring Charles as her successor. The Queen finds herself negotiating for funds to repair Britannia, symbolizing her effort to maintain a connection to the past. Peter Morgan skillfully mirrors this situation, portraying the monarchy as outdated, and the public calling for the Queen’s figurative decommission, even as Britannia slips away.

In the season’s culmination, Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair proposes a forward-thinking solution involving the decommissioning of Britannia. This decision becomes emblematic of a more progressive Britain, less enthralled by the spectacle of the monarchy and more focused on embracing a modern future.

Parallels between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana

Beyond the metaphor of Elizabeth and Britannia, the royal yacht also holds significance in relation to Princess Diana’s impending tragedy in Season 5. One could argue that the pervasive sense of doom surrounding Britannia extends to Diana as well. Diana had been navigating her own course for a considerable time until she reached a point where she decided it was time for a change.

The Crown Season 5 unfolds with the renowned BBC interview, featuring memorable moments such as Diana stating, “There were three of us in this marriage.” She challenges the system that treated her unfairly, leading to the Queen eventually granting a divorce for Charles and Diana. The negotiations over the divorce settlements parallel the discussions about Britannia’s repairs, all while the irreparable marriage sinks.

This theme reaches its zenith in the Season 5 finale, titled “Decommissioned.” In a poignant portrayal by Imelda Staunton, the Queen bids her final farewells while wandering around Britannia. This is artfully intertwined with scenes of Princess Diana preparing for a holiday with her sons and the Fayeds. Diana, too, is bidding adieu to a life she wishes to leave behind. As she gazes at her reflection in the mirror, a farewell smile graces her face. Her time as a royal is now in the past. The scene seamlessly transitions to Queen Elizabeth, her face partially revealed in a mirror. Diana and Elizabeth are reflections of each other: one, the reigning Queen, and the other, the one destined for the role.

Princess Anne

This season of The Crown faces disruptions from the tumultuous relationship between Charles and Diana, which is justifiable. However, as a consequence, certain characters receive less on-screen attention. Notably, Princess Anne, a beloved and forthright character, appears to have aged and gained even more wisdom after her separation. An easily overlooked detail is the mention of one of her books in the early episodes of Season 5, where she presents it to the Queen for perusal. This brief reference provides viewers with a glimpse into Princess Anne’s diverse activities and a hint at her intriguing life.

Princess Anne is recognized for her literary contributions, with three credited books to her name. These range from a book derived from a lecture on community punishment to an exploration of her passion for horses and her experiences in the Olympics. The narrative subtly reveals facets of Anne’s life beyond the central plot, adding depth to her character.

It’s always fascinating to delve into the lives of lesser-highlighted members of the royal family. Princess Anne, in particular, could easily command an entire episode dedicated to her if the producers chose to do so. Claudia Harrison, the new actress portraying Princess Anne, expressed her admiration for the character in an interview with the Radio Times, stating, “I think I’m playing the best royal! She’s a proper feminist. She doesn’t put a foot wrong, and she leads by example.” It’s a sentiment that many viewers might share—a desire for more screen time devoted to Princess Anne and her compelling story.

Desert Island Discs

Another storyline revisits Princess Margaret, who was a focal point in the initial two seasons of the series. Early enthusiasts of the show have expressed a yearning for the vibrant Princess. Her appearance in Season 5 is poignant, shedding light on lost love and the possibilities that might have been. Margaret is featured on the radio show “Desert Island Discs,” a real segment that premiered in 1981 and can be listened to here.

Although the current season of The Crown is set in the 1990s, writer Peter Morgan shifts this radio appearance into that decade to reconnect Margaret with her first love, Peter Townsend. This moment serves as a poignant reminder for Townsend when he hears Margaret on the radio, selecting a song that held special meaning for them during their time together as a couple.

Only those well-versed in the Princess’s history would notice the inaccuracies in terms of the timeline and song choices — she purportedly included a passage from “Swan Lake.”

Peter Morgan might be alluding to this when, later in the season, Princess Diana watches a ballet production of “Swan Lake.” The music takes center stage, persisting as the Princess departs and converses with Mohammed Al-Fayed, the father of her future lover Dodi. Depending on how deeply one delves into it, this could be seen as a poetic connection between Margaret and Diana. Margaret, possessing a significant personality and flair, also experiences her spark diminishing within the confines of the royal system. Both women grapple with mental health challenges and find themselves in marriages that wear them down, ultimately without discovering true love.

Princess Diana and fashion

Exploring further into Diana’s character, The Crown Season 5 showcases a selection of outfits that may be familiar to viewers, given Diana’s highly acclaimed and extensively documented ’90s fashion. Following her separation and divorce, Diana gains the freedom to choose her wardrobe, and these distinctive outfits make appearances in the latest season, including the combination of a sweatshirt with biker shorts and the notorious revenge dress. People magazine recently delved into her impact on the fashion world, noting in an article that “Some of her most casual moments have sparked massive trends, such as the recent resurgence in athleisure.” The article names her style as one of “timeless elegance.”

The new season accurately captures Diana’s style. A Netflix article discussing the Harvard sweatshirt worn by Diana in real life mentioned, “Harvard made the original ’90s sweatshirt for us,” underscoring the significance of these details.

The BBC Interview

Another crucial plot point to analyze is the infamous BBC “Panorama” interview with Princess Diana, led by journalist Martin Bashir. This interview acted as a catalyst for the eventual divorce between Diana and Charles, and was a significant moment for Princess Diana to finally voice her truth about the way she had been treated. Unfortunately, the logistics surrounding this interview were rooted in deceit. In The Crown Bashir is shown forging payment documents that serve as “proof” that individuals close to Diana are being paid to spy on her, including her private secretary. Bashir presents these to Lord Spencer, Diana’s brother, who initially trusts Bashir’s word.

Playing into Diana’s paranoia, Bashir meets with the Princess and offers her the opportunity to share her side of the story in a tell-all interview. Driven by anxiety and fear, Diana agrees to proceed with it. What viewers may not know, however, is that the truth behind Bashir’s manipulation was not revealed until 2021. According to Vanity Fair, Lord John Dyson disclosed this revelation in a report on the reality of Bashir’s deceit. It’s an unjust sequence of events, especially for the Princess, who had already struggled with mental health issues in the previous decade.

Despite the frustration it evokes, it makes for compelling television. The secretive nature of the interview, Bashir’s unethical means of securing it, and even the way in which the TV crew has to sneak into Kensington Palace disguised as audio equipment installers give the entire event the nail-biting tension akin to a heist movie, as described in a Vogue article.

King George V and his parrot Charlotte

A fascinating detail about the former monarch involves a sizable parrot perched on his shoulder. This element seems almost fantastical, resembling something one might encounter in the royal realms of Game of Thrones rather than in the context of The Crown. While it’s not unusual for royals to have pets — we’re accustomed to the Queen and her group of corgis, as well as her affection for horses — the choice of a parrot adds an intriguing touch.

In an episode addressing Elizabeth’s loneliness, it’s a touching realization that King George was never entirely alone, as he did, in fact, have a parrot named Charlotte. According to Wonders and Marvels, George acquired Charlotte during his youth, and the bird would perch on his Majesty’s shoulder, serving as “a critical eye over state papers and confidential documents, shouting ’What about it?’ in a Stentorian voice.” Reportedly, when George fell ill, Charlotte was the first visitor he requested. It’s undeniably peculiar but oddly heartwarming.

King in waiting

Allstar Picture Library/Mary Evans Picture Library/East News, © The Crown / Left Bank Pictures and co-producers

The Crown Season 5 lays the groundwork for Charles to eventually ascend to the throne, even though we are aware that this won’t happen for quite some time. Amid his separation from Diana, Charles is depicted as growing restless. The private conversation he has with Prime Minister John Major reveals his expressed desire to become king before aging further, drawing a parallel to Queen Victoria’s eldest son.

However, in reality, Sir John Major dismissed this conversation as a “barrel load of malicious nonsense” (via the Daily Mail). The examination of Queen Victoria and her son serves as a mirror and foreshadowing for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. Subtle details, such as describing him as “empathetic” and “impressive,” prepare viewers for his future role as king.

While setting the stage for King Charles, Peter Morgan doesn’t shy away from exposing some of his most notorious scandals, including a leaked phone call with Camilla. It’s a challenging scene to watch, but it’s a necessary element of the 1990s storyline. Peter Morgan concludes the episode by showcasing Charles’ charity work for The Prince’s Fund.

In a review of the season for Esquire, Rachel Dodes aptly summarizes this choice: “It feels almost as though Morgan is trying to apologize to Charles for dredging up the mortifying scandal.” It’s an audacious decision, especially given the current real-life situation with King Charles finally ascending to the throne.

Make sure to read our article if you want to know how 13 “The Crown” characters have changed over the course of the series.


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