The fifth season of The Crown is out on Netflix today, and we’ve been hearing quite a bit from Dame Judi Dench and a few other celebrated theater actors that director Peter Morgan’s “love letter to Elizabeth II” is now simply the stuff of “crude sensationalism” — nary more than a riot act read to a dead Queen fresh in her grave. Apparently, “King” Charles is going straight mental doing damage control.
The Crown has always been irrefutably deferential to the Queen, and more bizarrely sympathetic to basically everyone but Margaret Thatcher, brutally depicted by Gillian Anderson. I know the monarchy doesn’t have direct input on The Crown, but it often seems like they’re at least following a party line. A British actor wouldn’t get involved in this enterprise unless he was a monarchist.
And now that we have the handsome, miscast Dominic West as a yassified version of the then-Prince of Wales Charles in this season, it almost seems like… we’ve got a guy on the inside? If an objective of The Crown was to both complicate and humanize perceptions of the British monarchy, that initial goal has somehow become a project of getting viewers to sympathize with the family instead. And if West’s promotional tour these last few weeks have shown anything, it’s that he does feel bad for Charles.
Hear me out. Let’s consider the evidence, besides West being wayyyy too hot/debonair, and therefore, in my mind, likely secretly cherry-picked by Charles himself out of vanity and insecurity.
Camilla Got Cheeky With Him
He said Tampongate Was “Romantic”
West told the Guardian that a leaked 1993 recording of Prince Charles telling his then-mistress Camilla that he wanted to “live inside [her] trousers” or up inside her like a Tampax was not as tawdry as he remembered.
““My memory of it is that it was sort of filthy and dirty and really embarrassing, but actually, in the playing of it, it was much more like two middle-aged lovers being sweet to each other,” he said. “If any one of us had our intimate phone conversations reproduced verbatim in every newspaper in the world, imagine what that’s like. Imagine how awful that is. It just strikes you as being a horrible breach of privacy that no one should have to suffer.”
I hate to kinkshame, but that sounds like some damage control.
King Charles Refused West’s Resignation Over a Potential Conflict of Interest
West also revealed in the RadioTimes interview that upon deciding to take the role on, he offered his resignation as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a career-training charity and Charles’s pet cause.
West told the Radio Times magazine that his resignation offer was refused via a letter from King Charles’s private secretary, which said, “You do what you like, you’re an actor. It’s nothing to do with us.”
“I think that’s probably how [Charles] regards it,” West said. “I’ve been in a line to shake his hand a few times and it’s fascinating. It’s very useful to meet the character you’re playing, obviously.”
The Fan Boy Photo
A recent Town and Country profile of West goes deeper into his involvement with the Prince’s Trust. Apparently he “thinks so highly of Charles (now King Charles III) that it almost kept him from taking the part.”
He has met the new monarch half a dozen or so times through his ongoing role as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, the charitable organization Charles started in 1976. West believes sincerely in its mission of helping disadvantaged youth. In one group photo from a red carpet in 2014, West appears just over Charles’s right shoulder, grinning from ear to ear.
The photo, indeed, is pretty damning. West is smiling like he just met One Direction. Probably taking in a surreptitious sniff of Chazz’s hair, too.
Of course, Joan Collins is there as well, so we’ve got to give the recipient of that smile the benefit of doubt.
The Revisionist History of Charles Looking Cool Breakdancing
Prince Charles was born a 65-year-old man in Victorian children’s garb, and he has certainly never been cool. Someone involved in The Crown has made sure to remedy that.
To the question of whether the show is sufficiently respectful of the real people it depicts: It’s too respectful, perennially taking no one’s side in showing that every person involved is fundamentally Good. At one point, Prince Charles, the closest thing to an antihero the show has, dances to rap music with the young people of color his charity supports, as text onscreen tells us how many people he’s helped.
Here’s Charles dancing in real life, by the way:
Is a royal scandal the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Profumo Affair or when Meghan Markle tried to trademark an old word on our hands here? I guess we shan’t know until The Crown season six — coming to the small screen next time the Brits have a regime change in approximately two years