By Kahini Iyer Apr. 13, 2021
In The Crown, a generation, which might otherwise have written Prince Philip off as an out-of-touch old man, gets to see a different and more complex reality. He is biased, opinionated, bombastic, and therefore far more human than the Queen is allowed to be.
Only last month, an image of Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip in a car went viral online and instantly became a meme. Just released from hospital, the 99-year-old, people joked, looked like a zombie, with wide staring eyes and a grey complexion. Mean-spirited jibes that the Royal was being tethered to life by some arcane procedure only available to the rich and powerful ran rampant over social media, and the press speculated that he had been at death’s door during his hospitalisation.
In hindsight, it was a prescient moment for the internet, if not a tasteful one: Prince Philip died on Friday after an innings of nearly a century. The Queen, herself only five years younger, is without her consort for the first time since she took the throne in 1952; the Royal Family has lost its resident jester, straight-shooter, and, until recent years, headline-maker. Before the days of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle in the tabloids and Prince Andrew’s shady connections with peadophile Jeffrey Epstein, it was Prince Philip who courted controversy with his infamous gaffes.
The Prince’s irreverent personality is documented in the partly fictionalised Netflix drama, where he frequently falls into trouble for airing his less-than-diplomatic views: On a visit to Kenya, for instance, he pokes fun at a local monarch’s crown, and when Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime Minister, he bemoans the folly of the country being run by two women, one being his wife, the Queen. In real life too, Philip’s remarks often crossed the line into racist, sexist, and otherwise offensive territory.