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The Crown Series 4 – Netflix 2020

Clearly for many viewers the arrival of season 4 of the Crown on Netflix this November has been one of the highlights of the second lockdown of 2020.

These 10 episodes of about 50 minutes each follow the Queen, her family and the British government through the 1980s to the early 1990s. That means Mrs Thatcher as the first female Prime Minister, the Miners’ strike, spiralling unemployment, the troubles in Northern Island, the murder of Lord Mountbatten, the wedding of Charles and Diana, and the Falklands war.

This season also includes the “fairytale” of the royal wedding turning into a nightmare and the ousting of Mrs Thatcher from Downing Street.

I remember living through all of this. One of the questions that people have been asking is: “How much of this is true?” The programmes, as with Series 1-3 require the reconstruction – some might say the fabrication – of events and conversations.

Some might well be fair guesses, based on public record or leaks from those close to the sources, but we cannot be sure. We must wait for season 5 for the birth of the digital age, which has almost left no private space standing in our society.

What is clear is that the series provides a snapshot of a slice of our national life.

We see a growing sense of individualism, entitlement, the blindness of social and class division and the cult of the personality. All of these trends have emerged more and more in the past 30 years.

What should Christians make of this? We see the Queen on one occasion fall to her knees in prayer before going to bed. In an exchange with Mrs Thatcher, as she is about to leave office, the Queen talks about what they have in common, which includes their shared Christian faith. Whilst this is noted, there appears to be little sign of its impact on the lives or actions of either woman.

Subsequent decades have revealed more of the private faith of our Queen, yet looking at the history of our nation, the myth of Christian Britain has worn paper thin. Perhaps we need to get our historical facts elsewhere, but we do get a fascinating glimpse of human interactions in this series that should humble us and lead us to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex

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