Talking to my wife about the latest season of the Netflix TV drama The Crown, which follows the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II and her family. We talk about Charles & Diana, Margaret Thatcher, The Queen’s accent, Prince Andrew’s BBC interview and more.
Hello listeners, How are you today? I hope you are doing well. Here’s a new episode of the podcast.
Several things before we start.
The voting is over in the WISBOLEP competition. Yep, the voting closed on Sunday 6 December at midnight. I will be announcing the results in an episode of the podcast soon. So, stay tuned for that.
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694. The Crown / The Royal Family (A Royal Ramble with My Wife)
In this episode I am returning once again to the topic of the UK’s Royal Family. This time I’m talking to my lovely wife about the royals because we’ve recently been watching season 4 of The Crown and so royal stuff is definitely on our minds at the moment.
Just in case you don’t know, The Crown is a Netflix TV series about the British Royal family. I expect many of you will be aware of it too and maybe you’ve also been binge-watching season 4 recently, like us. Here’s an episode all about it.
My wife, who is French, is particularly fascinated by the bizarre lives of my country’s monarchs and we often talk about the show and the real events it is based on, so we thought it might be interesting to share some of our thoughts with you in an episode of the podcast.
If you haven’t seen The Crown yet, and you’re worried about spoilers in this conversation, I don’t really think it is possible to spoil this show as it’s all based on real events which most people know about. In fact, listening to this before you watch the show, could even help you understand it and enjoy it a bit more. Also, if you have no plans to watch The Crown, I think that you can still enjoy listening to this. It’s not just for people watching the show.
I know what some of you will be thinking. You’ll be thinking – “Do you recommend this as a good show for learning English?”
Yes, as long as you genuinely enjoy it. I think most people agree that The Crown is good and that it’s interesting – high drama, beautiful to look at, great actors, an interesting topic.
You should also be aware that the characters speak in a very posh accent, which is not how most people speak. It’s not massively different to, let’s say, “normal English” but you should be aware that they do sound very posh and have a posh accent. It’s important to hear a wide variety of accents in English, because this is the nature of the language. It’s a diverse language and you need to take that into account when learning it. You should be able to understand the various accents and hopefully be able to identify them to some extent anyway.
So, overall – yes, I think it’s a good show to watch and can definitely be useful for your English.
To get more specific tips about how to use TV shows like this to improve your English, listen to episode 660 of my podcast.
The Crown is currently in its 4th season, which deals with the period in which Maragaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister, and when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer – later to be known as Princess Diana. So this is the late seventies, the eighties and the early nineties.
In this conversation you will hear us talking in the usual rambling fashion about things like:
- What we think of the show, including descriptions of how it looks and the production in general
- The performances by some of the actors
- Accents you can hear in the show, especially the high RP which is spoken by the Queen and other royals.
- What the show makes us think about specific members of the family, their stories, their relationships with each other and how they are represented in the show
- What the show makes us think about the institution of the monarchy itself, including some of the pros and cons of having a royal family – for the country as a whole, but also for the individual members of the family itself who enjoy the luxuries of their privilege but are bound by the duties that they have to the crown
- We also assess the reign of Elizabeth II, and talk about “Operation London Bridge is Down”, which is the codename that refers to the official plan for what will happen in the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, when that inevitably happens. It’s actually quite extraordinary and makes you realise how significant The Queen is to the nation.
- We also end up talking about the recent scandal involving Prince Andrew, who is one of The Queen’s four children – he’s the third one in fact. I don’t know if you are aware of this scandal, but it was big news in the UK. It is actually a disturbing and shocking story, but it’s also fascinating. I am referring to Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of the trafficking and prostitution of underage girls. Epstein died in prison in pretty suspicious circumstances. The official story is that he committed suicide but plenty of people believe that he was killed in order to prevent the truth from coming out. Anyway, Andrew was allegedly one of Epstein’s friends or “associates” let’s say and in fact one girl who was a victim of Epstein’s has made claims against Andrew specifically. In response to those claims, Andrew chose to conduct an interview with the BBC in 2018 . He wanted to deny all the claims against him, but the interview did not go very well and it was a bit of a PR disaster for Andrew. I find it absolutely fascinating as well as disturbing and I’ve been wondering for ages whether I should discuss it on the podcast. Keep listening to find out more about this whole story.
The Royal Family Tree
Before we start properly I think it will really help if I remind you of the basic family tree in the Royal Family.
So there’s The Queen of course. Queen Elizabeth II. She has been Queen since 1952 and that’s the longest reign of a UK monarch in history. Her husband is known as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. In season 4 of the show The Queen is played by Olivia Coleman and Philip is played by Tobias Menzies.
The Queen’s mother was also called Elizabeth but she was commonly known as The Queen Mother. She died in 2002.
The Queen had a sister, called Margaret, known as Princess Margaret, played in the show by Helena Bonham Carter. Margaret also died in 2002, less than 2 months before The Queen Mother, in fact.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had 4 children. The oldest is Charles, the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and she became Princess Diana of course. They had two children. The first is William, now the Duke of Cambridge and married to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. They have three children. The oldest is George and he is third in line to the throne after Charles and William.
Charles and Diana’s second child is Harry who is now married to Meghan Markle. Harry and Meghan are to some extent cut off from the royal family as they chose to leave their public duties fairly recently, and they were quite heavily criticised for that. William, Kate, Harry and Meghan don’t actually feature in the show, but they do come up in this conversation.
Charles and Diana’s marriage ended in divorce in 1992. Diana of course died tragically in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
Charles later married Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he had been romantically involved with since before he married Diana. Charles and Camilla are now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.
The Queen’s other children are Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
That’s probably enough information about the family tree there, but I decided it was probably a good idea to remind you of their names and their positions in the family, just so you definitely know who we are talking about.
Anyway, I won’t go on much longer here in the introduction, except to say that my wife enjoys being on the podcast from time to time and she loves talking about this topic, but she’s a little bit self-conscious about speaking English in front of my entire audience like this. But I assured her that my audience are all lovely and non-judgemental and that she has nothing to worry about – so, listeners, don’t let me down. OK?
Right then, I hope you now can enjoy sharing some time with us in our living room, having quite a long and rambling conversation about The Crown and all things Royal and here we go…
That moment when Charles said “Whatever love means anyway…”
When The Queen met Michael Fagan after he broke into her bedroom
There’s nothing more for me to add here except this:
- What do you think about all of this? I mean about the royal family and all that stuff. Do you feel sympathy for the individual members of the family? Have you seen The Crown? What do you think of it?
- We didn’t talk much about Margaret Thatcher, played in this series by Gillian Anderson who first became known for playing Scully in The X Files. We are fans of hers, and my wife thinks her performance in the show was great. I’m not so sure. I partially agree. Anyway, we couldn’t cover everything in this conversation.
- Finally, what do you think – should I do an episode all about the Prince Andrew interview on the BBC?
Thank you for listening.
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WISBOLEP – I’ll be revealing the results and talking about what happens next in a forthcoming episode, soon.
Right, so I will speak to you again soon, but for now – goodbye!