After a two-year hiatus, Netflix’s cult-favourite drama The Crown has returned with it’s highly anticipated fifth season. In the season’s opener ‘Queen Victoria Syndrome’, the themes anti-royalism and the Queen’s struggle with modernisation are exemplified by the show’s reimagining of a Sunday Times poll in which the results highlight the British public’s favour of an early abdication of Queen Elizabeth II.
The mention of this “syndrome” which Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandmother was set to possess is told in the series as “the public beginning to perceive a long-reigning monarch to be out of touch with her people”.
But is this something that Queen Elizabeth II actually ‘suffered’ from? And did the British public really call for an early abdication?
Below everything you need to know about ‘Queen Victoria Syndrome’ and why this is a hint to why Queen Elizabeth II never abdicated the throne.
What Is Queen Victoria Syndrome?
As previously mentioned, this syndrome is named after Queen Victoria (whose reign lasted 63 years) and describes a monarch who is out of touch with their subjects due to the length of their rule.
Did The Queen Suffer From Queen Victoria Syndrome Like In The Crown?
In episode one, aptly titled, ‘Queen Victoria Syndrome’ we see the Queen Elizabeth supposedly struggle from the same issues, in which are embodied by a poll published by the Sunday Times.
In fact, the episode shows the great lengths that members of the Royal family and their staff went too to hide the poll from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles even petitioning his capabilities as a monarch to the Prime Minister.
In The Crown, polling results from the 1991 public survey showed that they’d prefer Prince Charles as the head of the monarchy over Queen Elizabeth, and that they thought that the Queen suffered from Queen Victoria Syndrome.
At the time of the polls publishing Queen Elizabeth was had served almost four decades on the throne.
Like Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth was inundated with calls for her to abdicate the throne in favour for a younger successor, which in this case would be Prince Charles.
Paralleled with the disintegration of her beloved Royal yacht, HMY Britannia, which metaphorically represented the
Did The British Public Want Queen Elizabeth II To Abdicate Early In Favour Of Prince Charles?
According to reports, the real-life poll wasn’t as anti-Queen Elizabeth as the series made it out to be either.
As per Insider, “there is little to no evidence that the term existed in common parlance before the writers’ room for The Crown chose to use it as a way to explain the British public’s dissatisfaction with the ageing monarch”.
Additionally, it turns out that the on-screen narrative doesn’t actually match up to reality. The results of the real poll didn’t demonstrate the British public’s favour for Prince Charles, but rather “nine out of ten surveyed viewed Queen Elizabeth, The Queen’s Mother and Prince Charles as “mainly favourably” or “very favourably.”
The real kicker is that the statistic “half of Britain’s population favours an early abdication” left out one crucial detail. The real results that 47% of the population supported the Queen stepping aside for Charles “at some stage”.
As we know, Queen Elizabeth II continued her reign up until her passing on September 8, 2022. Her son, King Charles III immediately ascended to the throne, with his coronation set to take place on 2023.
Why Didn’t Queen Elizabeth II Abdicate The The Throne?
While the British public may have lost interest in the Royal family, with the Sunday Times arguing in that fateful story that they were an “an expensive luxury the country cannot afford”, The Crown does hint at why Queen Elizabeth II never abdicated the throne.
Despite the British losing favour for Prince Charles after the tampongate scandal, the real reason Queen Elizabeth II never stepped down was due to her upright commitment to her role of sovereign.
The Crown presents the role of monarch as a contributing factor of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI’s demise, with the stress of becoming King after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated the throne partly to blame for his illness.
So naturally, knowing the gravity of the position it was something Queen Elizabeth was not something she would give up willingly.
Furthermore, in a speech the Queen delivered on her 21st birthday in 1947, she made a firm promise to the British public that she would astutely devote her life to service.
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” she said.
Given her complete devotion to the role, abdicating early was highly unlikely—irregardless of the results of a poll.