In Pennsylvania's

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"The Crown" and divorce

Netflix's "The Crown," about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, is a stunningly beautiful, entertaining, and fascinating work of art.  Yet as creative license is to be expected with dialogue between characters, it is insulting to an audience when historical details are needlessly changed (eg., Fact-Checking The Crown: 5 Things That Are True (and 3 That Aren’t!))....

While it may seem surreal, the last living man to have sat on the throne of England died within many of our lifetimes:
  • "The Duke of Windsor, who gave up the British throne in 1936 to marry an American divorcee, died in his home near Paris early today, a Buckingham Palace spokesman announced here....The Duke, who reigned for 10 months as King Edward VIII before abdicating, had been ill for some time. The Duke defied the British Establishment to marry Mrs. Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American. The couple lived in virtual self-exile from Britain since the abdication....'But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.' With these words, delivered with sadness over the radio on Dec. 11, 1936, to his subjects in Britain, Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor, became the first monarch in British history to voluntarily abdicate his throne" (Reuters, 5/28/72).
In the early 1970s, the intermingled life of the Duke of Windsor (aka, the former King Edward VIII) and Wallis Simpson may have been widely viewed as one of history's great love stories.  The former king's death coincided with the era of liberalized divorce laws in the United States.  Forty years later, the wonderfully uplifting "The King's Speech" did not glamorize that relationship.  Far from anything to be romanticized and not commenting on its morality, one author has suggested that the relationship was actually the culmination of a very weak man's characteristic behaviors, which put world safety at great risk! 

A great shortcoming of "The Crown" is that it seems to go back to a glamorized/romanticized vision of divorce/re-marriage.

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