Whether you’ve seen “The Crown” on Netflix or are fascinated by the British monarchy, you’ll love The Crown – Live!, now playing at the Garner Galleria Theatre. But if you’re looking for a laugh and need to brush up on your history, here’s a guide to the key players in the show.
Queen Elizabeth II – The late Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, though assuredly alive and well in The Crown – Live!. She acceded the throne after her father’s death in 1952 when she was only 25 years old. As Britain’s longest reigning monarch, she presided over many major political and social changes and was served by more than 170 prime ministers across her realms.
Prince Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh – Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband. Upon their engagement in 1947, Philip relinquished his Greek and Danish royal titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten to become a naturalized British subject. Though he was created Duke of Edinburgh upon his marriage to Elizabeth, he was not created a British prince until 1957, five years after Elizabeth’s accession.
Many rumors surrounded Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage in the first several years of Elizabeth’s reign, including those of infidelity on Philip’s part. In The Crown – Live!, Philip’s struggle with coming to terms with his wife’s sovereignty is highlighted.
King George VI – Former King of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, born Prince Albert of York. Albert underwent speech therapy treatment for his stammer in the 1920’s, a story well-known now from the movie The King’s Speech.
Albert ascended the throne under unusual circumstances. After their father, King George V, died in 1936, Albert’s older brother Edward acceded the throne and became King Edward VIII. However, Edward abdicated after less than a year as King to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite. After their wedding, Edward and Wallis toured Nazi Germany together in 1937, which fueled Nazi sympathizer rumors.
After his accession, King George VI reigned over a turbulent period, which included World War II. He died in 1952 following years of serious health problems due to his smoking habit.
Princess Margaret Windsor, Countess of Snowdon – Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister. Margaret was considered a controversial member of the British royal family. She was a celebrated socialite, often the subject of gossip due to her lifestyle. See the next two character descriptions to learn more about her romances…
In 1965, Margaret was sent (at the request of Her Majesty’s Government) to Washington D.C. to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund. This escapade is highlighted in The Crown – Live!.
Peter Townsend – A British Royal Air Force Officer who wished to marry Princess Margaret. Unfortunately, Townsend had just divorced his first wife, Rosemary Pawle, in 1952. Divorce was severely frowned upon at the time and divorcees were not allowed to remarry in the Church of England if their first spouse was still alive. After a dispute between Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, Margaret put out a public statement ending her relationship with Townsend in 1955.
Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon – Princess Margaret’s husband from 1960 to 1978. Tony was a photographer and filmmaker, who famously photographed Princess Margaret in 1959. The iconic, scandalous image that was published in newspapers showed Princess Margaret in an intimate portrait where she appeared to be naked.
Their marriage was tumultuous and rife with rumors and infidelity, and the two ultimately divorced in 1978.
Winston Churchill – Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Churchill served as Prime Minister during World War II from 1940 to 1945 and again in 1951 to 1955. He was a Member of Parliament for most of his life, from 1900 to 1964. Churchill is remembered for his leadership and his important role in defending Europe against the spread of fascism, though he is also critiqued for his imperialist and old-fashioned views.
Margaret Thatcher – Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher served as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. She was the first female British Prime Minister and is the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century. However, she is a polarizing figure in British politics. She was dubbed the “Iron Lady” (which is also a movie you may have seen) for her leadership style.
Although The Crown – Live! moves quickly over the children’s stories and onto more important things, here are a few of the notable mentions. The Crown – Live! focuses on the romances and relationship dynamics of the royal family’s children in the 1970s and 80s – it’s tough to not get confused by who is dating whom and when…the timelines and partners all overlap.
Charles, Prince of Wales (Now King Charles III) – First-born son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. It’s well known that Charles flirted with and was connected to a great number of women in his youth. He was famously told by his great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, that a “man should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down…” – which probably wasn’t the greatest advice for Charles.
Anne, Princess Royal – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s daughter. Anne was a respected equestrian, competing in the Olympics in 1976.
Andrew Parker Bowles – A British Army Officer who dated Anne, Princess Royal in the 1970s, and maintained an off-and-on relationship with Camilla Shand until their marriage in 1973.
Camilla Shand (Now Camilla Parker Bowles, Queen Consort to the United Kingdom) – King Charles III’s wife. Camilla and Charles dated in the early 1970s until Camilla married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973. Charles and Camilla remained close friends – very close friends – through Charles’ marriage to Lady Diana Spencer.
Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales – First wife of King Charles III, then Charles, Prince of Wales. Diana and Charles were engaged and married after a brief courtship in 1981. Diana became a popular figure in the United Kingdom with unprecedented levels of paparazzi and public scrutiny. Her marriage to Charles was fraught with tension due to their incompatibility and his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.