Four Reasons Why Elizabeth II In The Crown Is The Historical Icon We Need In 2018

In honour of women’s history month I’m taking a look at my favourite on screen depiction of a woman from history. While there are many notable portrayals that merit a mention, my favourite has to be Claire Foy’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix’s The Crown (2016). The show is one of Netflix’s most successful, having enticed millions of viewers with its humanising depiction of the royal family. At the heart of the programme is the complex struggle between duty and relationships, a tension that is prominent in every working woman’s life. As the daughter of a hardworking and successful woman, I am particularly conscious of the balance and compromise that such a tension demands. Peter Morgan’s shy yet steadfast portrayal of Elizabeth II shows how she suffered both personally and professionally due to the demands made of her as a woman and a monarch. Despite this, she never fails to exhibit the maturity, grace and exasperation typical of today’s working women, including my Mum. 

Here’s why this presentation of HRH sets itself apart from others and is so inspiring and relevant today:

She makes women in power look good

Men use oestrogen and the possibility of mood swings as arguments against promoting women to powerful positions. This is particularly prominent in politics and world leadership, and is even evident in criticisms of Hillary Clinton in the latest presidential election. Claire Foy’s portrayal of Elizabeth II, however, stands out for her steadfastness. In the face of political issues, she is firm, fair and unwaveringly professional. She even has the balls to put a waning Winston Churchill in his place. She is unswayed professionally by the loss of her father or issues in her marriage, carrying out her duties with a regal wave and polite smile.

She dresses the part

We live in a culture that scrutinises what women look like, so it’s important to take back control over our appearance and instead use our wardrobe as war paint. This way we can feel as comfortable and confident as everyone else around us. Claire Foy’s character is naturally shy, but her wardrobe helps establish her presence at important social functions. She tastefully makes use of the couture dresses and designers at her fingertips, giving off a vibe that is as much ‘power suit’ as it is princess. It’s important to look your best in any professional situation, and the Queen is on duty 24/7. And, above all: she never forgets to wear a tiara.

She’s always the bigger person

We all fall out with the people around us at some point and when it happens it’s difficult to rise above it. Elizabeth, however, has got it down to a fine art. When she and Philip are experiencing difficulties in their marriage, she deals with them maturely. But she’s not put in a box by her position as his wife, insisting that Philip kneel before her at the coronation because gender shouldn’t make a difference to her role as monarch (yas Queen!). When professional decisions spark conflict between Elizabeth and Margaret, she stands her ground and addresses her angered sister in a calm and matter-of-fact manner. Bottom line: she shows everyone involved that she has her sh*t together in a way we all wish we could.

She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty

Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth doesn’t mind getting mucky with practical work. From crawling through the Scottish Highlands hunting a stag, to fixing the engine of a car in the Kenyan outback, it’s clear that our reigning monarch enjoys a bit of dirty work. Despite her royal status, she unflinchingly carries out manual, grubby tasks on her land. Unlike the other women in her family, Elizabeth was a mechanic in the Second World War and won’t let staff do something for her if she knows she could do a better job herself. Her practicality and lack of squeamishness is something that we can all aspire to.