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What 'The Crown' gets right about the Queen’s faith

The subtle yet undeniable presence of Christianity is a vital inclusion within Netflix’s hugely popular series The Crown.

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According to the author of new book The Faith of Queen Elizabeth, this week’s release of season three continues the show’s commitment to offer a complete picture of the United Kingdom’s monarch.

“I do like the fact they include some passing moments where the Queen is praying, on her knees at her bedside, or she is attending church, or where she makes a reference to her faith,” author Dudley Delffs, an American royalist with British ancestry, tells Eternity.

“Showing that it is a part of who she is and the fabric of her life, I think that enhances the overall portrait of who she is.”

In exploring Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor’s personal journey of faith, Delffs was partly spurred on by the popularity of Netflix’s big-budget drama, as well as the Oscar-winning movie The Queen. So Delffs could be a tough crowd for The Crown to convince. But he gives it the thumbs up, liking season three’s consistency of tone and style, as well as its shift to focusing upon Queen Elizabeth during the 1960s and 1970s.

“Changing the cast is always a big risk but I really do think Olivia Colman is brilliant,” says Delffs, who also was a big fan of Claire Foy’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the first two seasons.

“They are tackling some difficult themes [including] how to deal with national tragedy, like Aberfan – that terrible disaster in the mining town in Wales – as well as things that are a bit more personal, related to the family, whether that be Princess Margaret or Prince Charles.”

“The Queen has had a very dynamic, personal Christian faith since childhood.” – Dudley Delffs

Delffs pored over the Queen’s speeches, interactions and other archive material to chart her Christian faith. As such, he’s not been surprised or shocked by anything The Crown has included. He thinks season three is going to be “more subtle” about her Christianity, compared with season two’s overt references – notably, the ‘Billy Graham’ episode and the issues of forgiveness anchored in her Uncle David’s abdication.

Having released The Faith of Dolly Parton last year, Delffs summaries that he is interested in examples of Christian faith in unexpected places. OK, sure, the current longest-reigning monarch doesn’t have a job in a local church or Christian charity, where you assume people are followers of Jesus. But come on, Mr Delffs, she is defender of the faith and the head of the Church of England.

Delffs agrees that the Queen’s heart for Jesus should be a given, but reasons that this sovereign’s religious roles “could easily become ceremonial or marginalised”.

“That has not been the case with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Delffs asserts.

“She has embraced them fully and has had a very dynamic, personal Christian faith since childhood.

“We see consistent evidence of that in her service, in her respect for diverse people groups – including people she disagrees with or who disagree with her – and in the way she has been willing to let the monarchy change to continue to try to make it more in touch with the subjects it serves.”

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The Faith of Queen Elizabeth

Dudley Delffs

Available from Koorong

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