This is what all your favourite characters from The Crown looked like in real life.

Video by Netflix

I watched season one and two of Netflix’s The Crown the way I’ve watched no show before it.

With my phone in my hand, frantically googling historical events/people/places/ballerinas.

The questions I typed into my phone over the weekend while watching the entire TEN HOURS of season two included but weren’t limited to:

– What’s an ‘Anthony Eden’?

– Who’s Prince Philip’s friend who cheated on his wife?

– Did Prince Philip have an affair with a Russian ballerina?

– Did Prince Philip have an affair?

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LISTEN: Laura Brodnik and I tackle every question to arise from The Crown Season 2, on The Binge. Post continues after. 


– With who?

Why?

– Prince Philip Melbourne Olympics (I no longer had time for questions… only key words)

– Prince Philip beard

– Queen Elizabeth hair

– How many children does Queen Elizabeth have?

– Who are the ones that aren’t Charles and Anne?

– Princess Margaret engagement

– Prince George as a baby (sorry this was the point I got distracted)

And that was only in the first four episodes. Netflix legitimately owes me money for my phone data and I will be pursuing it.

But the reason I watched The Crown glued to my phone wasn’t because of any shortcoming of the show. It was because the series taps into a part of me – a part of most people I’m sure – that’s become incidentally neglected: our fascination with history.

Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, and the real Queen Elizabeth II. Image via Netflix/Getty.

Particularly at a time when the British royal family happens to be front and centre in pop culture, The Crown satisfies that innate human craving for understanding. To learn how things became the way they are, how the present fits in with the past, and the context in which, in the very near future, the royal family will have to decide the future of the monarchy in a rapidly changing world.

... And also the sex.

The sex in season two of The Crown is also important.

But I digress.

The Crown acts as a stunning (loosely biographical) drama that ties viewers so intensely to the stories of Queen Elizabeth II, her family and her contemporaries, that you can't help but seek out the truth. Was Prince Philip really a philanderer? Was Princess Margaret really so mischievous? Was there really tension between Queen Elizabeth II and Jackie Kennedy?

Of course, it's near impossible to know the facts about what happened at any time in the royal family, when their profile, and the media attention that naturally follows, makes it necessarily difficult. But here's some brief background on the central characters in The Crown, and who they really were.

Perhaps the most misleading character in season two of The Crown is Galína Ulánova, the ballet dancer who features in episode one.

Before Philip leaves for a five-month voyage, Elizabeth places a note and her camera in his bag. But inside it, she discovers a photograph of Galína Ulánova, suggesting Philip is involved in a relationship with her. Later in the episode, Elizabeth watches Ulánova dance, and the scene seems to imply Elizabeth's insecurity as a woman, and in her marriage.

LISTEN: Laura Brodnik and I tackle every question to arise from The Crown Season 2, on The Binge. Post continues after. 

But according to Vanity Fairthere is no evidence Prince Philip was ever linked with Ulánova, who is widely described as one of the best ballerinas of the 20th century. There is, however, a story about Philip and another dancer named Pat Kirkwood. At the time, it was said Philip dined privately with Kirkwood while Elizabeth was heavily pregnant. But Kirkwood always denied an affair.

The characters in The Crown are by no means based on pure facts, but that's what makes them so compelling.

The Crown provides viewers with questions, rather than answers - questions that leave you wondering long after the show has ended.

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