‘The Crown‘ is a Netflix series that follows the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s rise to power as the monarch of England. In seasons three and four she was played by Olivia Colman. During Colman’s run, it highlights some of the most heartfelt, dramatic, and controversial events in the Queen’s life during the Cold War era, but there is one relationship it does not touch on or even mention. That is her friendship with former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Since the show focuses on her being queen, how the Crown affects her family, her relationships with various Prime Ministers, and the history of the United Kingdom at various points in time, it stands to reason that the United States would be an afterthought and this is true. Sure, Michael C. Hall and Clancy Brown appeared as American Presidents JFK and LBJ, respectively. The former delivering one of the worst Boston accents on television, but that is another article. Why should it matter that it ignored Reagan in Queen Elizabeth II’s life?
The reason is quite simple. President Reagan and Queen Elizabeth were good friends. Rumor has it, their mutual love for horseback riding is said to have kicked off the relationship. The President and the Queen, along with their spouses, would occasionally meet for social gatherings, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visiting Reagan Ranch and the Reagans being invited to stay overnight at the palace,a first for an American President. Perhaps, most famously, President Reagan was given an honorary knighthood, the highest honor in the UK for a foreigner, shortly after he left the White House.
Former White House aide Mark Weinberg writes in his book Movie Nights with the Reagans, “A close camaraderie developed between the Reagans and the royal family.” He added, “The president admired (the Queen’s) lifetime of service to her country and her sensible, unpretentious style when they were together.”
Their relationship did not just extend between President Reagan, Queen Elizabeth, and their respective spouses. Though they had met previously, First Lady Nancy Reagan grew close to Prince Charles after she and the President visited him and Princess Diana at their Kensington Palace home in the eighties. Charles bonded with Mrs. Reagan, seeing a kindred spirit in how the press attacked the two of them, and the two would become pen pals.
Prince Charles wrote to comfort Nancy when Ronald Reagan passed away in 2004 saying, “I so wanted to write to say how much my heart goes out to you.” He continued to write to her until her death, even discussing his failed marriage to Princess Diana.
With all of this evidence, where would this have fit in the show? Clearly, season four covers most of the eighties with the often tense relationship Queen Elizabeth had with Prime Minister Margeret Thatcher, played poorly by Gillian Anderson. While the show did previously engage in historical revisionism, season four was especially guilty of this with a social justice agenda that you would not believe.
The first three seasons of the show were set to humanize the Queen and show her from the perspective of becoming the matriarch of a commonwealth. What better way to do that than showing a friendship that was built on mutual interests, positions of power, and understanding? Several plots could have formed, including the Royal Family unsure of Reagan since he did not come from a privileged background, but he winning them over after a meeting. Or even a jealously from the Queen that Prince Charles had such an enduring relationship with Nancy Reagan.
It was clearly a missed opportunity, missed on purpose. President Reagan would not have fit in with the narrative the show was trying to form. He was sharp, intelligent, personable, and quick on his feet. The Crown showrunners were clearly trying to show Conservatives as out-of-touch glory hogs who have no empathy for the working class. Nancy Reagan was also a problem for them. She was stylish, mature, and classy. Not so of the false image they were trying to create around Thatcher, whom they portray as a scold, thug, and a terrible parent. The Reagans defy that narrative and so The Crown producers chose to erase a friendship between a President and a Queen that defined history for one of the most turbulent eras of the world.
Check out the trailer for The Crown season 4:
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