Imelda Staunton, Olivia Colman and Claire Foy on a final season poster for The Crown on Netflix

If ‘The Crown’ Were To Get a Prequel, Which Era of British Rule Should It Explore?

There are so many options!

The Crown has been a big hit for Netflix—and I love it. The show follows the late Queen Elizabeth II throughout her 70-year-long reign. The upcoming sixth season is reported to be its last, but what if there was more on the way?

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The Crown season 6 will be released in two parts, with the first part focusing on an event that changed the world: the death of Princess Diana. The final season will recreate tragic key moments surrounding the event (not the moment itself) and dive into the impact Princess Diana’s death had on the Royal family. This will undoubtedly be a tough watch, as the “People’s Princess” was one of the most beloved figures of the 20th century. But, with The Crown coming to an end, we were wondering—which era in British history could be featured in a new iteration of The Crown?

The show’s creator, Peter Morgan, did an interview with Variety, where he explored the concept of a new version of The Crown. More specifically, he said that he has an idea for a The Crown prequel and that it would potentially explore a period of history way before Elizabeth II’s reign. This could hypothetically happen, as Netflix’s managing director Ted Sarandos implied support for Morgan. Sarandos said, “If he believes there are stories to be told there, we definitely would explore it.”

In light of this development, I want to lay out some options that I think could be interesting. After all, Morgan seems to enjoy writing about a “multigenerational family saga,” and we love watching these sagas! So, let’s take a look at potential prequel ideas for The Crown.

The Henry VIII Era (1509-1547)

Quite a few portrayals of Henry VIII have already been made, but could The Crown do it best? There’s clearly plenty of material to work with. Henry became King at the age of 17 in 1509. He reigned for 36 years and ushered in the Protestant Reformation. Focusing on Henry VIII could mean Martin Luther will be included as a potential key character! There is also, of course, Catherine of Aragon, whom Henry married just six weeks after assuming the throne. And who could ignore Anne Boleyn, who has also had so many media portrayals but remains an interesting historical figure?

Henry sought a papal annulment that would allow him to remarry because he thought his marriage to Catherine was cursed. With key players deciding against this, Henry VIII ultimately ruled that he didn’t need the permission of the Pope to rule on Church of England issues. He married Anne in 1533. 

There were even more marriages to explore as well. Netflix could really do a lot here. Imagine the 1500s attire by the same creative team that worked The Crown! I’d love to see it. I would also want to see the excommunication of Henry in 1533 played out, as well—1533 was clearly a year for the ages. Lastly, the hypothetical show could cover the increased investments in the Royal Navy. I am envisioning amazing imagery and special effects here.  

The Charles II Era (1649-1685)

Charles II was a very impactful and wild leader in British history. He isn’t someone that I feel has already been explored a million times in popular media, either, which would make a series focusing on him all the more interesting.

Let’s talk about his childhood story. It could be an entire series in and of itself. In 1640, Charles’ father lost the Battle of Edgehill, so Charles had to flee to safety. The kicker is that he fled to France, where his mother was already waiting because she was in exile. A few years later, in 1648, Charles II’s father was defeated again at the Battle of Preston and was captured. He was brought back to England and was beheaded in 1649. The Scottish Parliament declared Charles II King in 1649.

Wow, that was a lot.

A key character would be Oliver Cromwell, who had a 17th-century beef with Charles II. Cromwell was the leader of the New Army, and he battled Charles at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Charles lost and fled to Europe, where he spent 9 years in exile. He lived in France, the Dutch Republic, and the Spanish Netherlands. During Charles’ exile, Cromwell essentially became the dictator of England, Scotland, and Ireland. When Cromwell died in 1658, the Monarchy was restored, and Charles became King again in 1660.

There are so many events for The Crown to tackle! More amazing scenes can come from the two ceremonies that took place when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. Charles II’s reign had beauty and controversy—there’s a lot to work with here.

The King George VI Era (1936-1952)

This is the obvious prequel to The Crown. George VI was, after all, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. There have been previous portrayals, however, with the film The King’s Speech probably being the most well-known. That focused primarily on his stammer, though. There’s a ton of controversy surrounding his reign and his life, and there are a lot of characters that could be depicted and developed.

In 1909, George joined the Royal Navy. He then joined the Royal Air Force in 1919 and was certified as a pilot. This could make for a good mix of scenes, as people love watching the Royals and love watching military ceremonies. He became the Duke of York in 1920. Three years later, he married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. They had Elizabeth (the future Queen) and her sister Margaret in 1926 and 1930, respectively. 

1936 was the year things really started to take a turn. George VI’s father died, and his brother Edward succeeded him. However, there was a problem. Edward was in love with an American—Wallis Simpson. She was a twice-divorced woman, and marrying her was illegal due to Royal rules, norms, and law. There was stunning tension between love and duty, similar to what we saw with Elizabeth’s sister Margaret in The Crown. True love prevailed, and Edward chose Wallis. He abdicated the throne later in 1936. I want to see more of the drama! Netflix has a knack for drawing things out, and this is an event where I wouldn’t mind that. 

George IV was crowned in 1937. A big part of his reign was World War II. So many shows and movies have featured the Second World War but this could be done from a different perspective. It could show the Royal family’s experience of the war and how it may have differed from the experiences of political heads of government who were major players at the time, like Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. It could go more in-depth than other previous portrayals have. They could also make FDR a key character, whom King George VI met when he visited the United States. 

The only problem with this pick is that George VI and his brother’s storylines were featured a bit in earlier episodes of The Crown. Sure, they can develop it way more by making it a full series and prequel, but fans may be over it already. Britain’s royal history is vast—there are plenty of other options to choose from, too.

(featured image: Netflix)


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