The Crown Season Four premieres this Sunday, Nov. 15 and I am counting down the minutes! If you haven’t watched this wonderful series, I definitely suggest diving into the first three seasons – you’ll be hooked and it’s such great escapism during these crazy days. The show is all about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and keeping with the royal theme, I’m delighted to introduce Ann Gripper of the UK’s Daily Mirror as our next Expert Q&A.
Ann hosts the fabulous podcast Pod Save the Queen, which airs new episodes every Thursday (follow on Insta @PodSave). She and Royal Editor Russell Myers discuss royal family goings on, from fashion and jewelry to major events and initiatives. It’s a really interesting look at the royals’ day-to-day lives, and they have wonderful expert guests (historians, authors, and more) to break down more niche topics such as the royal family’s wartime role in WWII. If you’re at all interested in the Windsors, I highly recommend this podcast.
A huge thank you to Ann for sending us all of this fabulous information. Below, she covers everything from what to serve at our Crown viewing “parties” (small gatherings, of course) to her favorite royal fashion moments and tiaras. This is a great one, y’all! Enjoy!
You have listeners and readers from all around the world. Is there a difference in the stories and content that resonate with an American audience vs. others? Why do you think the royal family (RF) is popular in the United States?
I don’t think there is a huge difference in the stories that resonate. It’s fair to say Meghan brought a new audience to the royal family, and there is perhaps also more interest in the traditions and history from some American listeners. Ultimately I think the royal family has a fairly broad appeal if you are interested in families, people and fashion.
What events are you most looking forward to covering in 2021 when (fingers crossed!) the royal calendar swings back to normality?
Oh goodness – it’s hard to predict what will happen. Prince Philip’s 100th birthday, all being well, will be a very special occasion for everyone – and we have the arrival of Princess Eugenie and Jack’s baby to look forward to as well. Eugenie is so good on Instagram so I’m hoping she will share some cute moments. And seeing Kate back at Wimbledon would be a definite sign of normality. Big events like Trooping the Colour, where we see all the family together, will be through the prism of Harry and Meghan not being there for a little while to come, I fear.
As journalists, what’s surprised you most about covering the RF, and what is the biggest misconception about them?
For me it’s the level of fandom which has surprised me most. They have some very dedicated followers, particularly the bloggers and the Twitter accounts I see – many of whom have encyclopedic knowledge. And when I was covering Kate’s early years as a royal, I surprised myself with the way her fashion stuck in my head. Misconceptions is a harder thing to answer. I think in some ways they leave us enough space to project our own impressions onto them so they can be what we need them to be. They share a little, but there is enough mystery to keep them interesting.
The 75th Anniversary of VE Day was in May. Sadly many of the big events were cancelled, but it looked like people still marked the day with festive (and socially distanced) block parties. In your opinion, what absolutely must be served at a classically British, celebratory event? We need inspiration for our Crown viewing party menus!
In my book you can’t go wrong with scones, some sandwiches (egg mayonnaise, cream cheese and smoked salmon, then whatever else you fancy) and some bubbly – plus whatever cake is your favourite: Victoria sponge is obviously a classic, but we’re definitely a chocolate cake family. Coronation chicken was created in honour of the Queen taking the throne and it’s delicious, but it’s a bit more of a faff to make yourself. That’s the one I like to get from the local bakery for a lunch treat. If you are getting the family together (one day once we’re allowed to!) then a classic Sunday roast is always a convivial occasion as you pass the vegetables around.
Mrs. Southern Social Note: I had to Google “coronation chicken” and wanted to share what I found – y’all, EVERYONE loves some version of chicken salad! Also, “faff” (definition: an overcomplicated task) is my new favorite word.
Can you settle the clotted cream debate once and for all: on a scone, does it go under the jam or on top of the jam?
I’m Cornish so it HAS to be jam first – then the cream on the top. The saying goes that our neighbours in Devon are ashamed of their cream so have to hide it… Some say cream is butter. But it’s not – it’s cream! And I swear you can get more cream on if you put it on the top…
The Crown, of course, offers a dramatic version of events. That said, do you feel that the actors give an accurate peek into their characters’ true natures? It must be so difficult to portray people we cannot really “know.”
It’s always slightly conflicting watching historical drama. You have to remember it is an interpretation of what happened – but it is so easy to sink into the events unfolding in front of us and accept them as re-enactment rather than drama. The wedding dress Emma Corrin will wear playing Princess Diana is true to the spirit of the original but different at the same time – and I think that is a good visual representation for the effect the series as a whole is going for.
What’s an under-the-radar, but fabulously “royal,” thing to do in London? Some of our favorites include tea at The Goring (Kate stayed here the night before her wedding) and a visit to Apsley House, which has a lot of art from the Spanish Royal Collection (now that’s a fascinating story).
They sound great – once we’re able to go out and about a bit more normally I’ll have to check those out! I’m not a very under the radar person and am unashamed to go full tourist in my own city. You can’t beat London’s parks – and the walk from the Cenotaph, through Horseguards and St James’s Park to Buckingham Palace is always lovely. And then you have the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens.
Historic Royal Palaces have some tremendous exhibitions and the palaces are wonderful in their own right. Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace are both fantastic – but Banqueting House on Whitehall is a smaller, hidden gem I never knew existed until I gave my husband HRP membership for a year.
In 2022 the Queen will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. One of the things we love about the RF is the classic pomp and circumstance. How does Buckingham Palace even begin planning for an event like that? The logistics of these celebrations – even Trooping the Color – are fascinating.
Many of these things are tried and trusted events which have largely evolved over time, so they have a bit of a head start. There have been so many celebrations of the Queen’s long reign that making it feel fresh and special – and something she can enjoy in her advanced years – is probably the biggest challenge. It may also be taken as an opportunity by communities around the UK to do a bit of local fundraising to make some civic improvements – a new footpath, a new bus shelter, a new water fountain. It’s fascinating to think how many of these things must have been done in the Queen’s name by now!
For royal watchers, the clothes and the fashion are obviously so fun to track. What ensembles stick out as all-time great royal fashion moments?
I love seeing Kate in her military looks – the shoulders on this year’s Remembrance Day coat were incredible. And some of her Jenny Packham looks have been simply stunning. For Meghan, the black and white Oscar de la Renta birds dress she wore in Sydney sticks in my mind: simple and full princess at the same time.
This is probably for the ladies, but Russell, feel free to chime in :-). If you could have any of the Queen’s tiaras, which would you choose and why?
Sorry, Russell is not getting his hands on the tiaras! But that is a tough one…To be honest, I’m pretty partial to the comedy 40th pink birthday tiara my husband got me. A colleague sent me this Big Bang Theory moment after my birthday celebrations and it made me laugh a lot.
The Queen’s collection is something else, though. I think it would have to be Queen Mary’s Diamond Bandeau tiara, worn by the Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry. It was so sparkling that day. Plus it’s in a flexible 11 pieces – getting to play Lego with a tiara would definitely be fun!