Roy­alty is a “virus”

The Week Middle East - - News -

Peter Mor­gan’s ca­reer is a co­nun­drum, says Stephen Arm­strong in The Sun­day Times. De­spite his staunch re­pub­li­can­ism, the screen­writer has a kind of ge­nius for hu­man­is­ing the monar­chy. It started with his 2006 film The Queen, fol­lowed by a play, The Au­di­ence, and now his hugely suc­cess­ful Net­flix se­ries The Crown. (Mor­gan is cur­rently writ­ing se­ries four, of a planned six.) “If you had told me I would be do­ing this, I would have told you it was mad, hal­lu­cino­genic con­jec­ture,” he says, scratch­ing his head in puz­zle­ment. “I wouldn’t have guessed there would be anything more to say about this coun­try­side wo­man of lim­ited in­tel­li­gence who would have much pre­ferred look­ing af­ter her dogs and breed­ing horses to be­ing Queen.” Yet the sheer breadth of El­iz­a­beth II’s reign – the politi­cians she has seen come and go, the wars and re­ces­sions and con­sti­tu­tional crises she has silently ob­served – makes her a fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject. “Look at how many prime min­is­ters are wheeled out in coffins, on stretch­ers, hav­ing made fools of them­selves: Down­ing Street is full of sick peo­ple. And yet she sur­vives.”

Re­luc­tantly, Mor­gan has come to ad­mire the re­silience of the monar­chy. “They’re sur­vival or­gan­isms, like a mu­tat­ing virus,” he says. “It is a com­pletely in­sane sys­tem, but per­haps it’s the in­san­ity that makes it work. Be­lief in God is so de­ranged that it makes ab­so­lutely no sense, but it holds peo­ple to­gether some­how.” What­ever his views on her job, Mor­gan has no wish to up­set or of­fend the Queen by drama­tis­ing her life. He is rather hop­ing she doesn’t have Net­flix. “I mean, she’s ninety-some­thing years old and barely knows what the in­ter­net is, so I live in hope that she hasn’t seen it, never watches it and doesn’t give it the slight­est thought.”

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