In the first speech of King Charles, which lasted nine and a half minutes, there was a special line filled with special meaning.
While most of the attention was focused on what the monarch said about his late mother Queen Elizabeth II or his olive branch to Harry and Meghan, there was a revealing paragraph he reserved for Camilla, now queen consort.
“I am counting on the loving help of my beloved wife Camille. In recognition of her faithful public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she is becoming my queen consort. I know that she will bring to the demands of her new role the unswerving devotion to duty on which I rely so heavily.”
These are carefully chosen words designed to evoke certain associations with Camilla, a woman who was once persona non grata not only for the royal family, but also for ordinary people.
Ridiculed for her appearance, considered harsh and undesirable, and criticized for being the “other woman” that made the unfortunate unlike saint Diana, Camilla considered too controversial to bear the title that should have been go from Diana to Kate Middleton through her, the Princess of Wales.
Charles was so eager to reinforce the distance between now and then that he went out of his way to point out that he and Camilla had been married for 17 years. Charles and Diana were married for only 15 years – most of this time they were separated and most of the time when they were not, they were unhappy.
That Camilla is now queen consort, a prospect thought impossible 20 years ago, is due to a years-long rehabilitation process.
Diana famously said in the infamous 1995 BBC Panorama special: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a little crowded.”
The third party was technically Camille, but considering how long ago Charles and Camilla’s romance began and how it continues to burn intensely, perhaps the third party was Diana.
It’s not what Diana signed up for, and it’s certainly not what he promised in his marriage vows, but 50 years after Charles and Camilla first met in the summer of 1972, there’s some confirmation.
For those who remember the tabloid furor of the early 1990s, leaked phone calls and nasty accusations, the new king and his then-mistress had a less than perfect reputation.
For others, a vivid portrayal of the royal love triangle in Netflix’s lavish royal epic. Crown here’s what they know about that scandalous time.
To be sure, this is just a staged, imaginary conversation behind closed doors, but did the images of the Crown help or hinder the relationship between Charles and Camilla?
A bit of both. It humanized them—especially Charles—before ripping the stripes off him for his coldness towards Diana. FROM Crown Returning to the top ten most watched Netflix series after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the series will continue to be a blessing and a curse for King Charles.
With its exemplary production values, extraordinary performances and soap opera-level drama with a sheen of prestige, Crown another exercise in royal soft power. Overhard royalists may object to the Peter Morgan series by pointing out inaccuracies or turning pale at the way the show “treats” their beloved Windsors.
But Crown really awesome series. In an effort to reveal something human behind the throne, the series turns symbols and figureheads into close people.
Charles’ shortcomings are contextualized in a restrictive institution that did not allow him to choose either school or wife. Third season Crown and an Emmy-winning performance by Josh O’Connor turned him into a likable character, a man with a noticeable inner life.
This is not something real royals have ever been allowed to display. Whatever compassion you have for Charles, the Queen, William or Harry, it is always your projection, not something real or tangible that you know about them.
Crown shortens this distance, even if it is not “real”. It fills a gap in what you know about the British Royal Family with what you want to know.
Considering that the audience perceives them through carefully organized performances, CrownTheatrical versions can be as real to you or me as flesh and blood royalty. Our impressions of them – unless you’re queuing up behind the barricades for a glimpse during the tour – is what gets transmitted through pixels and code.
So these fictional versions of Charles and Camilla are starting to replace the real Charles and Camille because you probably know more about them than the others.
And if you go the way Crown represents them, it’s a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the series makes it clear that they have a strong foundation and a clear love for each other – and that if it were not for outdated traditions, as well as anachronistic expectations from women, they would have agreed long ago.
Downplaying even Camilla’s relationship with her first husband, Andrew Parker Bowles, Crown suggests that she and Charles have always been each other’s last romance. This is an idea that was directly discussed with Charles’ speech this weekend.
And who can’t refuse the idea of lovers by destiny? Even the most inveterate cynic is a romantic at heart.
On the other hand, when Diana appears on the scene, Charles is by no means a faithful or obedient husband. He is aloof, dismissive, and sometimes violent towards his young fiancée. He is an adulterer. Bye Crown doesn’t let him go easily, the show’s commitment to humanizing Charles and his behavior is truly relatable, even if you judge him for it.
He’s not a cartoon villain. He is a man whose barely contained desires and frustrations, whose confinement in a musty institution causes him to do terrible things to another person.
Upcoming fifth season Crownin which Dominic West plays Charles, Olivia Williams plays Camilla, and Elizabeth Debicki plays Diana, could be more thorny for King Charles.
Spanning the early 1990s, this is a turbulent period in which Charles’s reputation took a hit due to separations, Diana’s public statements, and leaked records between the royal family and Camilla.
Crown Charles isn’t expected to get any help, but given the show’s strong script and characterization, it shouldn’t be one-dimensional either.
There is speculation that the series, due out in November, will now be delayed given the timing of the Queen’s death. It might serve King Charles well. He would not want to sue him again so soon after his accession to the throne.
But perhaps this is exactly what the members of the royal family need – a work of art that proves, first of all, that the Windsors are people, that they have flaws, but they have feelings.
A monarchy that is destined to survive in the 21st century, let alone should exist, cannot be emotionally distant from its subjects. He cannot escape the banality and grandiosity of the human experience.
They must be to some extent the same as us. They must be able to fall in love.
If real members of the royal family can’t delve into the dark and ornate details of their lives, then a reverently crafted, fictionalized version of their lives can.
Charles’ former press secretary Colleen Harris once told biographer Penny Junor about Camille’s portrayal: “[The media] everyone made a lot of money on the story that Camille was an evil, terrible person who ruined Diana’s life and ruined the lives of the children, and they wanted the story to continue.
“The more we made Camille acceptable, the less appeal the story had. The idea was to make her more human without making her more popular than him – we didn’t want a repeat of that rivalry – to show that she’s a real person with real feelings and interests.”
The Crown is streaming on Netflix.