Netflix Binge Watching: The Crown

We’ve been watching The Crown, the tales of the latest monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Windsor. It’s surprisingly good. The actress who plays Elizabeth II starts out kind of awkward, but after a few episodes starts to wear the role very well. The actor who plays Prince Philip really looks the part, and does very well in the role.

I don’t know how I’d feel about the Constitutional Monarchy if I were raised in the UK. I’m a bit of an insufferable republican. Monarchy is a really awful thing to do to people; especially the monarchs. It is interesting human drama to put people into that kind of position for no other reason than accident of birth. Probably why those of us in the US have such a fascination with British royalty. At least our leaders have to want it. But if they really want it, are they fit to have it?

28 thoughts on “Netflix Binge Watching: The Crown”

  1. The monarchs still pine for the times of “divine right”. I find the whole concept of wielding power or influence because of an accident of birth to be repulsive. Perhaps the Russians and French had the right idea with regards to monarchy.

    1. I wouldn’t call the Russians or French models of liberty. The French at least still cling to the ideal, but I’m not sure how much in practice. Not saying we made any mistake shaking off monarchy, or that I wish it to return. If the goal is a system which preserves individual liberty, I’m not sure giving power to people that seek it is any great prize.

      1. My main point about Russia and France is that their solution ensured the monarchy could never return. As for individual liberty, the Slavic mindset is much different and is expressed differently. The French model is different still, where it is expressed as liberty and brotherhood.

        1. if by “Slavic mindset” you mean the Russians have never in history been what we would call “free”, then maybe. Russia’s always been under the bootheel of some strongman or other, to the point where they have no practical experience with democracy whatsoever, but i’m not sure i’d attribute that to any inherited mindset necessarily.

        2. “My main point about Russia and France is that their solution ensured the monarchy could never return. ”

          But…the monarchy DID return in France following the republican revolution. Several times in fact.

          Following the revolution, Napoleon seized power as emperor, thus re-establishing a monarchy.

          After his fall, the Bourbans regained power for about 15 years.

          A constitutional monarchy was then implemented, called the July Monarchy, for about 20 years.

          Then France went back to a republic, but only for four years, after which Napoleon III seized power and re-established the emperor monarchy for another 20 years.

          It was only after the fall of Napoleon III in 1870 that the French firmly established republicanism, but it was not through a bloody revolution involving regicide.

  2. I think you hit on the reason we’ll see more media attention on the American “princess” in coming months. She made the choice to monarchy, though not the full monarchy since she’s marrying the spare instead of the heir. It’s a fascinating concept of choosing a role in life, and when you add in the complexities of US tax laws and citizenship issues, it only gets more interesting.

  3. I don’t buy into the “accident of birth” argument because of where it logically leads.

    Why should the children of rich people have a better life than the children of poor people for no reason other than accident of birth?

    More broadly, why should Americans and Western Europeans have access to incredible amounts of wealth and comfort compared to the rest of the world, for no reason other than the accident that they were born there?

    You see where this argument leads.

      1. I’ve thought the same thing – one house of the legislature selected at random from the citizenry. That would be a true cross section of political opinions, uninfluenced (before election) by special interests.

        Another thing I’ve considered is a negative legislature – one that can only repeal laws, not enact them.

        1. Maybe we could have a few different types:

          –one session that can only cut taxes
          –one session that can only cut spending
          –one session that can only repeal laws & regulations
          –one session that can only pass constitutional laws or propose amendments

      2. Well, I’m certainly mistrustful of anyone who WANTS to be an elected official, at any level.

    1. Why should a wealthier person (say, me) not give my children the opportunities that I can, with the wealth that I have created?

      More importantly, what business is it of anyone (say, you), what I do with my wealth?

      As to why westerners (to use a shorthand expression) have more access to wealth, it’s because we created it. Mainly via a system of property laws, that allow a person to create something and then keep it. Places that lack such rule of law (the majority of the African, South American, and Asian continents, for example) have far greater disparity between the well off and the not, have less opportunity for the not well off to change their status, and have a higher incidence of others taking that wealth.

      Wealth can be land, businesses, cash or cash analogs, livestock, etc…The only kind of wealth I will not abide is human slaves, which is still a considerable part of life in some places on earth.

  4. They don’t really have a constitutional monarchy. You can’t have such without a constitution, and they don’t really have one.

    What they have is a mish-mash of common law, tradition, and normal acts of Parliament that together they claim is a “constitution”, but in reality, it’s not even worth the paper it isn’t written on.

    1. I think all that is meant by that is that the monarch’s functions are prescribed by law. That it is not an absolute monarchy.

  5. I’ve always thought it was interesting, the dynamic between separating the head of state from the head of gov’t. There could be potential advantages to having a stable head of state for decades at a time, rather than rolling over every few years.

    I’ve been listening to a history of England podcast that has been quite enlightening as to the development of the British monarchy and Parliament and their interaction.

  6. That’s the first time I’m heard Matt Smith referred to without any inclusion of his stint as the Doctor, or with the implication that he’s not a ridiculously well-known actor :)

    (Which, admittedly, caused me some cognitive dissonance when watching at first)

  7. I am enjoying it too. Random selection of Congresscritters sounds good to me. When I first decided I liked it, I thought, “What if UFO crazies get picked?” Now we have Sen. Reid among that set.

    1. I would go so far as to say, “Well, why can’t UFO crazies have at least a little bit of representation in Congress?” After all, they are people too (at least, the ones that aren’t lizard people sent from Alpha Centari to mess with us).

      At a family reunion, I once proposed the idea that the House of Representatives should be expanded to 1,000 people — or rather, 1,000 votes — and that each State should be given votes apportioned by population. Each Representative should be chosen by how many “affidavits” that the person can collect, and have as many votes as they have of the percentage of available affidavits. Essentially, this would be a “continuous voting” system, where a Representative can suddenly fall out of favor for any reason, at any time.

      My brother-in-law didn’t like the proposal. He only saw it as an expansion of government (while I see it as diluting the power of any one representative); after the discussion, I realized another major advantage/major flaw of this system: it’s going to be *much* better at reflecting the population than what we currently have, for better *and* for worse.

      It would also require that we give up anonymous voting, but then, I have come to the conclusion that anonymous voting, unfortunately, is very susceptible to fraud.

      Among other reforms I’d like to propose: a House of Repeals (as was mentioned above) and adding a third Senator for every State, so that every State could vote on one Senator for every year.

      I would also strongly consider making it a requirement that, regardless of where you serve in the Federal government, whether it be in the bureaucracy, or in Congress, or in the Presidency, that you can only serve for 12 years at a time, with 6-year sabbaticals in between times of service. The only exceptions I’m willing to consider are court appointments…

      1. I like it, but why not split the difference: one senator elected by the people, one appointed by the state as per the original arrangement?
        –fewer people on payroll

  8. Considering the witch hunts based on politics such as Wisconsin , anonymous voting is a necessity.

    1. Which is why moves away from that (eg, from-home mail-balloting) are so worrisome.

  9. Thanks so much for the recommendation of The Crown. I checked it out and it is very compelling. One really feels for the problems of being forced to a role.
    The idea is the monarch does nothing is so foreign to me as an American.

    1. Most Anglospheric and Western European Parliamentary systems have a separate Head of Government and Head of State. It’s another facet of American Exceptionalism that we combine the roles; and that our Head of Government is not also the Head of Party of the Majority Party. Westminster-style parliaments cannot have a legislative/executive split, at least not for long.

  10. They are doing a fine job of showing just how stupid many of the royal family were. Montbatten, Phillip and the Duke of Windsor were just as utterly stupid as portrayed.

  11. Somewhat off topic, but in keeping with the theme of this blog, I seem to remember that one of Prince Phillip’s few ventures into politics was to voice opposition to Tony Blair’s total ban on handguns in the UK.

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