The Crown: Netflix show brings back memories of royal family's 1990s antics
The Crown's final series has been released on Netflix - here are memories of the royals in the 1990s
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NationalWorld.com's Early Editor Tom Morton and Associate Editor Marina Licht discuss the return of The Crown - and memories of the royal family in the 1990s.
Tom: A soap opera except none of the characters are likeable, and it should be decommissioned, or at least moved off primetime BBC1 and put on BBC2 at 12.30am on a Wednesday.
Not EastEnders - but in fact the attitude towards the royal family that many of us had in the 1990s. You didn't have to be a dyed-in-the-wool republican to be fed up to the back teeth of these publicly funded spongers... you just had to have eyes and a brain to realise that this dysfunctional family did not deserve all the privileges it was accorded. Or at least the people involved were abusing their position and leaving most of us feeling ashamed.
We live in a different world now to then. It's easy to forget how opinion has changed. Now Prince Harry has attracted a lot of millennial support for espousing mental health and disability causes despite his exile, and even to these jaded eyes William and Kate fulfil the "sensible adults" role with aplomb. The monarchy has - for now - turned it round and I wish them no ill, though I would not complain were the family's funding to be stripped back.
But rewind a few years and think back to the silliness that surrounded the throne. Nobody ever really had a bad word for the Queen. We watched 1992's annus horribilis speech, referencing the Windsor Castle fire and the marriage breakdowns of three out of four of her children, and felt sorry for her - although there was a school of thought that said perhaps the parenting was not all it could be.
Even at peak royal family nonsense The Queen was always OK - but, oh, the rest of them! The metaphorically toe-curling leaked phone calls involving "Squidgy" Diana and then Charles and Camilla's chats. The literally toe-curling pictures of Fergie literally sucking a Texan. Prince Andrew struggling for a role in life (although we have since learned how he actually spent his time, and it was worse than we ever imagined). The constant drama of Diana manipulating the media as best she could - think of that picture alone in front of the Taj Mahal... she was brilliant at controlling the narrative but it was tiring and degrading, although not as degrading as the dismissive way that her husband treated her.
The Panorama interview in which Diana batted her eyelids so hard she could have swept leaves off a path, all while dropping rehearsed bombshells - absolutely gonzo. You felt sorry for the human caught up in all this, but at the same time you just wanted to shout "WILL ALL OF YOU JUST STOP IT - YOU ARE HEIRS TO THE THRONE. BEHAVE".
So the appetite and enthusiasm for this latest series of The Crown both baffles and disappoints me. It's baffling because - unlike shedding light and perspective on long-past events, as previous series could claim - we're now in an era in which the royals have been overly-documented, captured forever and made easily accessible online. You want to learn something? Look it up on your phone. We don't need to see it again, pushed into a script and re-presented. And it's disappointing because repackaging real-life as entertainment has already been done - in real-time. It cheapened the country, it cheapened the royal family and it did nobody any favours. It's not something I want to revisit.
Marina: I totally agree with you Tom on many aspects of the royal family, and remember being aghast at them back in the 1990s, but that didn't make me switch off. It probably had the opposite effect on me and I became fascinated at their exploits and wanted to read more, though not necessarily agreeing with their actions.
I am fully aware of the part Princess Diana had when it came to calling up the paparazzi and not being the 'innocent victim' but in many ways she was the victim of the royal family, and I liked that she was the rebel of the royal family and was making sure that she was essentially getting her own back (whether that was right or wrong) in the way they had treated her and essentially exploited her because I believe at the age of 19, she was exploited.
For some it may seem ridiculous, but I was genuinely very upset when Princess Diana died as I felt that she was just embarking on a new life and I of course felt desperately sorry for her two boys. I felt that she had been badly treated and to this day I feel aggrieved on her behalf.
I remember (like the rest of the nation) feeling angry when it came to Queen Elizabeth II's delay in reacting to Diana's death and thought when she did return to Buckingham Palace, it was simply too late.
I will be watching The Crown Season 6, but I can't say that I am looking forward to it as, although it is entertainment, I don't like the idea of seeing her final moments and the car crash unfold. When I think of Diana, I also always think of Prince William and Prince Harry and how disappointed she would be if she was alive today to see how fractious their relationship is. I will never forget how traumatic it was for them to have to attend their mother's funeral, with the eyes of the nation on them. The trauma is clearly evident in them both still, particularly in Prince Harry; it has essentially dominated and shaped his whole life.