The 5th season of “The Crown” makes us privy to the post-Cold War era, where there were a lot of transformations happening all around the globe. The elder ones felt out of touch, whereas the younger lot were feckless and mostly lost. Queen Elizabeth had once said that unhappiness has a very weird nature. It only takes something worse to come along before you realize that it was happiness, after all. The issues of the past now seem trivial in front of the unresolvable contemporary problems that “The Crown” has to face. The 5th season of “The Crown” brought new challenges to the British monarchy. The world was changing at a rapid pace. The Queen was not opposed to the basic idea of change, but somewhere she did feel that a lot of things were not really needed. She didn’t understand the point of undermining the sanctity of an institution like marriage. She was opposed to the idea of her son, Charles, getting a divorce, but with time she realized that the new generation had a different thought process. She didn’t agree with it, but she wasn’t left with much of an option. The Camillagate scandal, in which the private conversations of Prince Charles and his lover, Camilla Parker Bowles, came out in the open, made the Queen realize that the damage was beyond repair. The scandal made the general public question the credibility of the sovereign. But maybe that scandal didn’t hurt the Queen as much as the actions of her own son did.
Throughout the fifth season, Prince Charles was quite vocal about the fact that her mother should abdicate the throne and give him a chance to do things differently. Her way of thinking might have become obsolete; maybe the people were right in saying that she was suffering from the Queen Victoria syndrome, but one thing that couldn’t be denied was that she was a morally upright woman. She came from a different school of thought. She held her family in high regard and never did anything that would tarnish the reputation of her family. But it felt like the younger generation wanted to dismantle the belief systems. Convenience and pleasure were given more importance as compared to values and ethics. Maybe it was a reflection of society itself.
Not only the Queen, the BBC, too, was facing the challenge of being relevant. Marmaduke Hussey, the BBC Chairman, was aligned with the ideologies of the Queen. He also felt that there was no need to compete with the other channels and be a part of the race. But there were others in the system who thought otherwise. It is very easy to tell a person to adapt and change, but in reality, it is probably the most difficult thing to do in the world. Queen Elizabeth had been there since the time of Winston Churchill, and now she was seeing men and women half her age takes charge of the world. Still, she held her ground, and no matter how disappointed and conflicted she felt, she was not ready to leave the battlefield.
Major Spoilers Ahead
How Did Martin Bashir Convince Diana For The BBC Panorama Interview? What Happened To Her After Divorce?
Diana was in a very unstable state of mind when she was living alone in Kensington palace. She was desperately in need of some company. She had transformed into someone who was insecure and needy. There was a time when she used to attract light wherever she went, but now the shadows never left her side, no matter how hard she tried. When her close friend James Colthurst told her about a journalist named Andrew Morton, she felt like she had a purpose. She had given up hope that anybody would understand what she had been through, but Morton had given her a second chance. She recorded her testimony, and James Colthurst took the cassette to Andrew Morton. Finally, her story came in front of the world in 1992. She made a lot of revelations about the royal family and Morton left no opportunity to portray them as villains who had a regressive approach. Morton denied the fact that he had ever interviewed Diana, though everybody knew that he couldn’t have known the details if it wasn’t for her. Though the book tarnished the image of the monarchy, it was an explosive BBC interview that shook the very foundations of Buckingham Palace. Martin Bashir, who worked for the BBC, was of the opinion that if he played his cards well, then he would be able to get an interview with the Princess of Wales. He knew that for the furtherance of his plans, he would have to fabricate the truth and create a sense of fear. He went to meet Charles Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana and told him that the life of his sister was in danger. He told Charles Spencer that his chief of security, Alan James Waller, Commander Richard Aylard (private secretary to the Prince of Wales), and Patrick Jephson (private secretary to Princess Diana) were together snooping on Princess Diana and we’re keeping a track of her, at all times.
But Martin Bashir was just bluffing. To corroborate his theory, he made fake bank account transcripts and showed them to Charles Spencer. Princess Diana was informed about the same, and she also met the BBC journalist. Martin urged her to tell her story to the world. He told her that if she wanted to save her life, it was imperative to remove the veil that was hiding the evil intentions of the conspirators. Diana was also in a very fragile state of mind at that time. She agreed to come on board and probably gave the most controversial interview of the entire decade. Her infamous line, “There were three of us in the marriage,” was said by her in that interview itself. After giving the interview, Diana realized that maybe she had gone a bit overboard. She wanted to take revenge on her husband for leaving her for Camilla Parker Bowles. She wanted to hurt him as badly as she could, but in the process, she ended up hurting the monarchy even more. Maybe it served as the final nail in the coffin, and Queen Elizabeth realized that it was better for everybody if Diana and Charles initiated a divorce. Diana had always thought that she would feel liberated after the divorce, but it was not so. She felt even more lonely and scattered. She met a lot of men post-divorce and even during her separation period, but none of them were able to fill the void left inside her. The charming princess had become even more vulnerable over a period of time. Maybe that was the reason why she agreed to accompany Mohammed Al-Fayed and his wife on vacation in southern France. She had no friends, and she was not able to spend a lot of time with her boys, William and Harry. She was looking for that one solid support system in her life on which she could lean, but the quest only ended when she took her last breath.
‘The Crown’ Season 5: Ending Explained: What Did Prince Charles And Tony Blair Talk About? What Was The Conflict Between Queen Elizabeth And Prince Charles?
The people of the United Kingdom had started believing that the monarchy had no role to play in the modern world. They had started seeing the cons more than the pros. People were still confused about the role of the royal family, and they felt that it was a criminal waste of taxpayers’ money. People were losing jobs, the country was in recession, and there were a bunch of people who were spending millions of pounds in the name of tradition and custom. In front of problems like hunger and poverty, it sounded a bit idealistic, but the British Monarchy did have a role to play in the larger scheme of things. But nobody cared about the symbolic aspects when their survival was at stake. As we saw in the 5th season of “The Crown,” the British household was also divided into two factions. Prince Charles was a modernist, whereas his mother, Queen Elizabeth, was a traditionalist by nature. From the very first episode of the 5th season, we saw that Charles believed it was about time his mother abdicated the throne. According to the poll conducted by the Sunday Times in 1990, almost half of the voting population believed that the Queen should abdicate and allow the Prince of Wales to take over. People had started feeling that Queen Elizabeth had lost touch with reality. They had started feeling that she was way too ideal for the practical world. They found Charles to be more pragmatic in his approach. Charles had accepted the fact that if the monarchy did not change with time, then it would eventually cease to exist. He believed that the monarchy was plummeting in public esteem and credibility. In the year 1997, Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony, and the people started seeing monarchy as opposed to progress and freedom. Charles wanted to change that image as soon as possible, and he knew that it wouldn’t be possible unless and until he became the King.
Queen Elizabeth didn’t want her royal yacht, Britannia, to be decommissioned. She knew that a huge sum of money would be needed to make the repairs. That is why she kept the issue in front of the newly elected Prime Minister from the Labour Party, Tony Blair. Mr. Blair told her that the royal family could have a brand-new yacht if she allowed a private player to step in, as the government was no longer going to fund it. He said that the yacht would be owned by a private party and would be leased to the government if and when needed. He also said that Britannia’s name would be changed to New Britain. Charles was quick to add here that it was not an unusual arrangement, as in the modern world (with emphasis on the word “modern”), shipping containers were leased out in a similar fashion. Prince Philip angrily interrupted him in between and told him that Britannia was no oil tanker but a symbolic representation of the Queen herself. The Queen couldn’t accept the terms that were laid down by the prime minister. She decided that instead of demeaning the legacy of the royal cruiser, she would have it decommissioned.
Prince Charles met Tony Blair during his visit to Hong Kong. He told the prime minister that his views were in stark contrast with those of the Queen. He said that the British Monarchy needed renovation, just like Britannia. He felt that his mother and her gray-haired advisors were still clinging to a past that didn’t have any relevance in contemporary times. The Prince of Wales told Mr. Blair that he, too, wanted to preserve and protect “The Crown,” but in order to do so, he felt that it was imperative to make certain changes in the outdated system. Charles even went ahead and told Blair that he shouldn’t have any guilt because Britannia was getting decommissioned. He said that “The Crown” would meet a similar fate if they didn’t adapt and change according to modern times. Tony Blair was rather shocked to hear what Charles had to say. He didn’t expect him to voice his opinions so openly against his own mother. He was quite impressed by Prince Charles and called him an utterly sensible and smart man. Blair somehow understood the plight of the man. He said that he had waited for his turn for merely 18 years and that it had made him so impatient and restless, and that he couldn’t imagine the mental state of a man who had been waiting for almost 50 years.
As for Queen Elizabeth, she had to swallow the bitter pill. She had to accept that her Victorian notions were no longer relevant. She had realized that, as much as she liked it, she couldn’t live in the past. The change was brutal; the change was hard, but she had no other option but to embrace it.