The one downside of The Crown’s popularity, says its creator Peter Morgan, is all the awards it keeps winning. “I’m happy for the show but I loathe awards. All you want to do is celebrate with the people you’ve made the show with, and in LA [The Crown won two Golden Globes in January], there’s a lot of stuff that gets in between that.
“Twenty different parties, agencies and networks, it’s like the Fall of Saigon trying to get out of the Beverly Hills Hotel. That cigar moment of happiness and contentment can be quite elusive. If you take the intimacy away, there’s nothing to enjoy.”
Morgan is a curious character. While seeming to have a glass-half-empty outlook, he’s also possessed by vivid energy and is very grateful. Although not to the Queen, necessarily. “If you were going to choose a character, you wouldn’t choose a private, shy, middle-aged woman of limited intelligence,” he says.
Is her intelligence limited? “I don’t mean intelligence, I just mean, she’s not an intellectual. And yet, I find her… Well, I came at it as completely anti-monarchist and I’ve turned around utterly. I’m a royalist, now.”
To explain this sea-change, Morgan says, “There’s something about the soul of a country that is somehow connected to the head of state. People believe in the Queen, now, at a time when it’s so hard to find people that you really believe in. I think her achievement is undeniable, particularly when you think about what effect exposure and visibility has on people. It’s breathtaking, really.”
Morgan’s confident insights that breathe life into Philip and Elizabeth’s marital strife through the 50s in the new series of The Crown also imbue his take on the Queen’s political position, which is a complete mystery, considering nobody has ever known anything about her politics, except that she really liked John Major.
“Given the generation that she is, and in particular who her father was, the King Emperor, I think his commitment to the Commonwealth was so undiluted that I’m sure she’s very much her father’s daughter. If Europe and the Commonwealth were drowning, she would pick out the Commonwealth.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s anti-European, but I think both unions — the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom — are more important to her than the European Union. But if she thought leaving Europe would weaken those unions, she would be a Remainer.”
Despite our fascination with the royal family and what goes on behind the gates of Buckingham Palace, Morgan insists that the monarchy has had an “astonishing turnaround. In the early 1990s, all the marriages fell apart and they were all behaving in a crazy way,” he explains.
But as the elder royals weathered it and gained stature by so doing, their lives began to be understood on a human level, as people of whom extraordinary demands were and are still made. “It’s quite clear, now, that they have no power at all. In fact their powerlessness is the torch. We torment these people. But we’re the villains, because we don’t know what we want from them.”
The Crown season two is released on Netflix on Friday 8th December 2017
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news