Netflix’s royal drama The Crown has got us hooked for four straight seasons now. The latest season, that was released in 2020, makes you realise that it is one of the few shows where women outrank men in not just authority but sheer numbers too. Strong women navigating personal, professional and diktats of regal life, giving valuable insights, lessons and being torch bearers of reform and change.
The flagship show has a stellar cast led by the likes of Olivia Colman, Gillian Anderson and now Emma Corrin. While this trifecta has everyone wanting more, here are some unnoticed women who held their place and roles equally well in this screenplay.
Princess Margaret played by Vanessa Kirby (Season 1-2) & Helena Bonham Carter (Season 3 onwards)
Kirby and Oscar winning Bonham Carter pop the cork on the tragic and flamboyant sister to the monarch. One who watches her crave the spotlight before and after King George VI’s demise. Her frank disposition to being overshadowed by an elder sister, despite being their father’s favourite child, is a brilliant narrative to her inner misery and outer excesses. Arguably the soul of the otherwise guarded Royal clan, Margaret stood strong for all modern values, basic human instincts and vivacious spirit of any woman who knew her mind.
Princess Anne played by Erin Doherty
Season 3 had everyone wondering about the Queen’s second child - a bit of an enigma even to the family. Her natural disposition to be scandalously outspoken, indulgence in casual sex and not one to shy away from throwing shade at her own family, mirrors that of her Aunt Margaret’s. At the centre of a quadrangle love equation alongside Andrew Parker Bowles, Prince Charles and Camilla Shand, she gives away the charade of perfect marriages and family with ease and much irk of others.
Queen Mary played by Dame Eileen Atkins
The oldest matriarch in the House of Windsor, Queen Mary can safely be called one of the most professional women in the family. She recognises that being ‘queen’ and a monarch is a job and one that must be done with utmost respect and care. Giving pearls of wisdom from her own experiences, she even tells Elizabeth that “to do nothing is the hardest job of all”.
Wallis Simpson played by Lia Williams & Geraldine Chaplin
This American socialite’s relationship with King Edward changed the British royal family forever. She is the woman for whom King Edward VIII abdicated his throne! Wallis shows it’s definitely not her way with words, since she barely ever speaks except to complain. But her disinterest in the trappings of royalty had an appeal for the insider making his way out of the shindig. Her beguiling smile and unshakable support for love makes it difficult for you to not notice her.
Camilla Shand played by Emerald Fennell
Emerald Fennell plays Prince Charles’s long-lasting love interest. We saw the complexity of her character in Season 3 as she met Prince Charles while she already dated her future husband Andrew Parker Bowles. Her unspoken grasp on Charles’ mind and heart makes it difficult to love and/or hate. One sees a woman bound by marriage yet tugged on by her emotions. Her lunch date with Diana had us all hold our breath as these firebrands tip toe around each other on screen.
Jackie Kennedy played by Jodi Balfour
This cameo was waited for with bated breath by all viewers. The American royalty has a fleeting but a vital presence on the show. Jodi charmed on screen with her looks and her vulnerability in power. She gave us a glimpse of the grey that comes with being a woman in a coveted position in politics.
Princess Alice played by Jane Lapotaire
Prince Philips’ mother who belatedly called him Bubbkins, was seen at length in Season 3. She married Prince Andrew of Denmark and was later exiled because she suffered from schizophrenia. She was a patient of Sigmund Freud and her presence as an estranged mother lends a whole addition to what her relationship was with Philip.
Edwina Mountbatten played by Lucy Russell
She had only a cameo in the entirety of four season, and yet, impacted some of the most important characters on the show. The scandal around this global icon of her time muddled politics, history and societal expectations in a bitter yet salacious concoction. Edwina is touted to have a string of affairs during her open marriage with Lord Mountbatten (Dickie) including India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Her tiny cameo in the latest season stresses on her devil-may-care attitude.
(Edited by Neha Baid)