“The Crown” Effect: How a TV Show Introduced Prince Philip to a Generation of Americans

Laughs for years as Prince Philip's blunders, explosions complicate his legacy

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For a whole generation of Americans, Prince Philip was a blank slate. “People felt like he was that older gentleman next to Elizabeth, but really had no clear sense of who he was and who he was,” said Arianne Chernock, associate professor of history at the University. from Boston.

In recent years, the activities of young royals have fueled much of the intrigue, with the second in line to the throne, Prince William, marrying Catherine, now the Duchess of Cambridge, in 2011. They have since welcomed three children, with the youngest, Prince Louis, born in April 2018.

Royal fever hit the United States again in May 2018 when William’s younger brother Prince Harry married former American actress Meghan Markle, now known as the Duchess of Sussex. That fascination intensified after the couple pulled out of the family last year, relinquishing their royal titles before revealing everything about their lives in a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired last month.

But it can be said that “The Crown” also helps to generate interest in the royal family among young Americans.
The difference, however, is that the show’s first two seasons – released in 2016 and 2017 respectively – revolve around the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, as Claire Foy describes it. This period also coincides with the first years of her marriage to Prince Philip, played by Matt Smith.

Smith paid tribute on Friday in a statement describing Prince Philip as “the man.”

“99 years and over, but what a round. And what style. Thank you for your service, it won’t be the same without you, ”said the Emmy nominated actor.

‘The Crown’ highlights the difficult adjustments the young couple faced as Elizabeth became Queen earlier than expected in their marriage. It also shows how, in an era marked by chauvinism and sexism, the need for Philip to line up behind his wife was overwhelming.

“The role of Prince Consort is really difficult and those who took on this role had very little precedent to study and very little sense of the concrete job description before taking the job,” Chernock said.

And though through modern eyes, many Americans have now formed a certain view of Prince Philip through “The Crown”.

Mary McClelland, a fan of the show who lives in Chicago, said her opinion of the Queen’s husband was neutral before watching the Netflix series.

“I think he’s not the best dad in the world. I think he did the best he could with what he could do at the time and in the society he lived in and the generation he was in, ”McClelland told CNN before Philip died. . “But I don’t necessarily blame him for who he is. ”

Laughs for years as Prince Philip's blunders, explosions complicate his legacy

While many Americans may not have had a firm impression of Prince Philip, his reputation in Britain has evolved over the decades.

“He actually has a pretty mischievous personality. And in Britain he’s certainly notorious for a number of missteps, ”Chernock said in a CNN interview also conducted before Philip’s death. “So his sense of humor and his fun can get him in trouble sometimes. ”

“I think the show did a lot to humanize it, to show the man behind the crown,” Debra Birnbaum, former Variety editor-in-chief, said before Philip’s death. “There’s a more complex perspective of who the guy is… for better or for worse. ”

Tobias Menzies, who played an older Philip in later seasons of the show, quoted Shakespeare as paying tribute to the late royal.

“If I know anything about The Duke of Edinburgh I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want an actor portraying him on TV giving his opinion on his life, then I’ll leave it to Shakespeare. well in you appears / The constant service of the ancient world… “RIP”, he said in a tweet Friday.

For some avid fans, each episode of “The Crown” has led to a trip to the internet to find out more about those involved, including Prince Philip.

“It prompted me to do more research on him and every aspect of the show,” said McClelland, communications director for a nonprofit organization. “How intense and crazy his upbringing was, for me, just fascinating. I mean, if he was a modern man, I’d be like, ‘get into therapy immediately!’ ‘

& quot;  The Crown & quot;  seemed to help spark interest in the royal family among young Americans.& quot;  The Crown & quot;  seemed to help spark interest in the royal family among young Americans.

But, she added: “You know, the current royal family seems to revere and love him. And so whatever the dynamic, his grandchildren, every time they talk about him and in the articles, it’s just that he’s a legend. ”

Birnbaum said Peter Morgan, the show’s creator and writer, worked hard to keep “The Crown” based on reality.

BBC inundated with complaints about Prince Philip's wall-to-wall coverageBBC inundated with complaints about Prince Philip's wall-to-wall coverage

“You will never know what two people said to each other in a private conversation, but you will know the facts,” Birnbaum said. “The conversation may have been imagined, but [Prince Philip] lost his favorite sister in a plane crash, then became a pilot. It speaks of a very interesting kind of human being. ”

Prince Philip also played an important role in the modernization of the monarchy – which was highlighted in the series. “His commitment to technology, advocating, for example, filming the family or trying to update systems at Buckingham Palace,” was part of it, Chernock said. “And he’s definitely a sounding board for Elizabeth and he’s stayed the course. ”

In fact, after all of their years together, Elizabeth’s success may very well be due in part to the man she married. The man so many Americans knew so shortly before “The Crown”.

“Why is Elizabeth succeeding? She’s successful because she’s been truly steadfast, ”Chernock said. “I think Philip has a lot to do with it. ”

CNN’s Eoin McSweeney contributed to this report.

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