How Prince Andrew Saved Me From Netflix's ‘The Crown’

An anti-monarchist's manifesto against Netflix's drama about the British royal family

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Olivia Colman portrays Queen Elizabeth II in a scene from the third season of "The Crown," on Netflix.
Olivia Colman portrays Queen Elizabeth II in a scene from the third season of "The Crown," on Netflix. Credit: Sophie Mutevelian,AP

Brace yourselves, because you haven’t heard the next sentence uttered by any other person in the past week. 

Thank you, Prince Andrew. 

Yes, thanks, Your Royal Sliminess, for reminding me why I have been a holdout from joining “The Crown” party since the show first debuted on Netflix in 2016. 

Your excruciating recent interview on the BBC, in which you pathetically sought to distance yourself from convicted pedophile (and your longtime pal) Jeffrey Epstein could only have made you look more guilty if, simultaneously, you’d been reading the latest issue of Barely Legal. 

In trying to assure us that you had no knowledge of the sordid goings-on at Epstein’s sorority houses, you have inspired a whole new term: implausible deniability.

I had two thoughts while watching the interview (and if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t have a full stomach, you should check it out on YouTube):

1. Wow, season five of “The Crown” is going to get really dark.

2. Yes, the royal family gets a shitload of money (official term) from the British public, but it also keeps the U.K.’s popular press afloat with its never-ending gift of tawdry stories — Prince Charles’ “Tampongate”; Prince Philip’s “Slit-eyedgate”; Prince Harry’s “Nazigate” and now Prince Andrew’s “PizzaExpress Woking-gate” (still working on a snappier title for that one). 

Before Prince Andrew’s timely intervention, I was showing signs of weakness and actually planning to watch the third season of “The Crown,” lured by the glowing reviews and presence of acting royalty like Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter in the just-recast show.

But thanks to weaselly Andrew, I came to my senses in the nick of time and remembered that I must never allow myself to watch a show about an institution I despise. I’m sure U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn feels the same (mind you, he probably has similar misgivings about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”). 

As a British citizen, I have been an ardent anti-monarchist ever since I first heard the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” back in the late 1970s. Subsequent phrases like “Crown Estate,” “Duchy of Cornwall” and “Magnet for American tourists” just confirmed it. 

How much of a republican am I? Well, as a student I would affix stamps to letters (google it, millennials) with the Queen’s head placed upside down. I also really resented using a capital “Q” in that last sentence. Hell, I even had to think twice about seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 

One of the most oft-cited reasons for anti-royalists’ loathing of the monarchical system is the sheer number of hangers-on in the royal household (“mansionhold,” surely?) — seriously, you will struggle to find a longer line on Black Friday than the British line of succession. (Prince Andrew is actually quite high up at eighth in line, although I must admit there’s a tiny part of me that would grudgingly accept the 45th in line ascending to the throne so we can finally have a King Cassius I.)

There are times when one worries that one would secretly like “The Crown.” After all, people being placed on pedestals, their time divided by controlled public appearances and hidden private lives, invariably makes for great serialized drama. Indeed, what is “Succession” if not a story about American nobility where the crown is conferred through sweat and money, not blood? What is “The Young Pope” if not a story about religious nobility overusing the frankincense to cover for crimes in the cloisters? And, of course, what is “Game of Thrones” other than “The Crown” with more dragons and, in Prince Andrew’s alleged case, less naked young women?  

Then there’s Israel’s own royal family, the Netanyahus. Is it any wonder there’s serious talk of a TV show being made out of their regal-legal drama, combining as it does the antics of Henry VIII, Marie Antoinette and a very naughty little prince? Variety reported last month that such a show is already in the works, but the producers may want to wait to see how the prime minister’s seemingly final act plays out before commissioning that script.

In order not to succumb to the charms of the dramatized Windsors in “The Crown,” I have recruited a second secret weapon: Whenever I find myself pondering what it would be like to see Claire Foy or Olivia Colman bringing a postage stamp to life, I just check out a random episode synopsis — and that usually does the trick. 

Seriously, who could not resist a show in which “the Queen travels abroad to learn about horse training” or “Princess Margaret finds solace in the arms of a much younger landscape gardener”? I’m not even going to dignify those plotlines from season three with the word “spoiler.”

You know what would be nice? Fewer shows about equine pursuits and corgis, and more series about people whose blood isn’t quite so blue or where the spoons at birth weren’t quite so silver. For instance, how about a mini-series about a very different type of Brit, Fiona Hill — possessor of an amazing backstory and the most northern English accent ever to be heard in Congress.

Following her showstopping turn at the recent impeachment hearings (not since “The Full Monty” have so many Americans scrambled to turn on the subtitles), the Associated Press revealed how this coal miner’s daughter overcame a tough childhood — apparently, when she was 11, a boy in her class set one of her pigtails on fire during a test and she simply extinguished it and resumed her studies — to become a world-renowned expert on Russia. I harbour some doubts about whether she can pull off that accent, but otherwise Kristin Scott Thomas gets my vote to play the lead in “Hill on the Hill.” You’re welcome, Netflix.

And, trust me, that would not be the daftest TV idea to emerge in recent days. That honor probably goes to a dramatized adaptation of the brilliant true-crime series “The Staircase,” with Harrison Ford reportedly set to star as writer Michael Peterson (who was accused his murdering his wife Kathleen after her body was discovered at the foot of their home’s narrow staircase). 

On the one hand, this sounds like the worst idea since Prince Andrew thought it a good career move to go on national television and answer questions about Jeffrey Epstein. On the other, I’m already really curious to see who they’d cast as the real star of the original show — Peterson’s legal counsel, David Rudolf. 

Anyway, that’s for the future. Back to the past and “The Crown.” I’ll make you a deal, Netflix: As soon as Britain realizes that if it really wants to “take back control,” it should could drop its anachronistic monarchy, I’ll happily watch “The Crown” and see it as a valuable historic document. 

I’ll also make it a two-for-one deal: I hear your comedy-drama “Living with Yourself,” with Paul Rudd, is great — but who has the time for all these shows nowadays? As soon the technology becomes widely available, I promise, the first thing I’ll do is get my clone to watch it.