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Opinion: The dark side of 'The Crown' emerges this season

November 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The Crown S4. Picture shows: Prince Charles (JOSH O CONNOR) and Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)

More than any yet, writes Holly Thomas, season four of "The Crown" demonstrates how effective the palace PR machine has been since the 1980s to turn around the public fortunes of a group of people who may not be exactly like their on-screen counterparts but certainly racked up "sufficient terrible doings upon which to base a cracking TV show."

If one were to design the worst staycation possible, I doubt a single detail would err from the depiction of the royals' holiday at Balmoral in the second episode of the newly-released fourth season of "The Crown," set in the late 1970s and 1980s and featuring the debut of Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin as Diana Spencer, Prince Charles's prospective fiancée and the future princess.

Over the course of several khaki-colored days, Thatcher, followed immediately by Spencer, are put through their paces by the royal family, who have a series of assessments known both in the show and in real life as the "Balmoral test. " This is administered at the royals' Scottish holiday home to determine whether a newcomer will be accepted by the clan.

The only member of the family who convincingly mourns the death of his father's uncle Lord Mountbatten, Charles -- played wonderfully by Josh O'Connor -- is penalized for the closeness of their relationship by a jealous Prince Philip, before being shoehorned by both his parents into a loveless marriage to young Diana.

Like the Queen, whose reported real-life preference for Prince Andrew is reinforced in a sequence where she weighs the limited merits of her four children, Thatcher is shown favoring her worst and most entitled child, Mark.

In episode five, Colman's Queen manages to hold a conversation with a man who breaks into the palace -- though it's important to note that wasn't quite the case in real life, according to the intruder.

But when Corrin's Diana pleads for an audience, Colman's Queen repeatedly ignores her, compartmentalizing her suffering -- and her son Charles' -- with robotic ease (a tone not apparently that far off from the Queen and Diana's real relationship).

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