The Queen’s traditions for welcoming a new prime minister are just like on The Crown!
24th Jul 2019
Enormously popular historical royal drama, The Crown, has given us not only a sumptuously shot, completely fascinating, inside look at Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family’s life, but also, in some respects, a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the dealings between Her Majesty and the British government, represented by the British prime minister.
With former London mayor, Boris Johnson, due to take office as the new prime minister of the UK on Wednesday July 24 (Thursday, Australian time), and Vanity Fair reporting The Queen has had to delay her annual summer vacation to Balmoral to meet with Johnson this week as is tradition, we thought it timely to check in on how The Crown compares to The Queen’s relationship with the British government and the prime minister in real life.
First up? The “red box” of government documents. In The Crown, when Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, introduces a young Elizabeth to the box, he suggests she flips it upside down and works from the bottom up, so that none of the important information which he claims is placed at the bottom on purpose so the monarch won’t get to it, is missed. In real life, Hello! reports The Queen does indeed receive a red box of important papers pertaining to the government every single day, except two, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
Queen Elizabeth II's royal box of government papers, Dublin Castle, May 18, 2011. Image credit: Getty Images
How regularly The Queen meets with the British prime minister is also depicted relatively accurately in The Crown. In the TV show, she meets regularly in person with her current PM (Winston Churchill played by John Lithgow in season one) or they speak on the telephone if an in-person audience isn’t possible. According to the official British royal website, Royal.uk, this depiction is accurate. In a statement on the website the palace writes, “The Queen gives a weekly audience to the Prime Minister at which she has a right and duty to express her views on Government matters. If either The Queen or the Prime Minister are not able to meet, then they will speak by telephone.”
As for The Queen delaying her annual summer trip to Balmoral to meet with Britain’s next prime minister, according to the British royal website, there is a royal protocol that requires the Sovereign to meet with the potential new prime minister as it is the “prerogative of the Sovereign” to appoint a new prime minister. Protocol also dictates that part of welcoming the new prime minister involves the new prime minister “kissing” the hand of The Queen. In The Crown, there are countless occasions when Queen Elizabeth puts duty before her personal plans.
In real life and on the TV show, once The Queen’s duty is done, she will be free to head off to Balmoral for the summer, a place she loves and where many memorable royal family holidays and events have taken place. Indeed, Vanity Fair reports, the monarch’s granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, says it’s the place Her Majesty is “happiest” and in a recent documentary shared that when the family are there they enjoy “walks, picnics” and spending time with the dogs.
In the Instagram below shared by Prince Andrew, Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, are (despite the caption referencing Nicaragua) pictured hiking at Balmoral.
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