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Olivia Colman replaced Claire Foy as Queen Eliz­abeth II in season three of “The Crown.” | Wiki­media Commons

A staple of modernity in the United States is an unwill­ingness to take on respon­si­bil­ities and rec­ognize our roles in the broader picture. As it turns out, Netflix’s new season of “The Crown,” like the pre­vious ones, gives us a model to follow.

In the third season of the hit drama, Claire Foy passes on the role of Queen Eliz­abeth II to Olivia Colman. Ini­tially, I was worried about the shift — not because Colman lacks any­thing as an actress but because Foy’s por­trayal of the queen set a tone of strength despite her becoming the head of state at 25 years old. The way Foy por­trayed the queen’s sense of duty to country and church amidst dan­gerous sit­u­a­tions made the first two seasons great.

Colman, playing an older, more steadfast Queen Eliz­abeth, carries this same sense of duty with aplomb. It’s some­thing we can learn from in our modern world. While the queen refers to herself as an “old bat,” this tran­sition into middle-age means she is no longer unsure of herself. She knows when and where to break the rulebook if she’s going to keep the nation and the monarchy thriving.

The theme of duty con­tinues to run strong through “The Crown” in season three. Eliz­abeth does her duty, even when it con­flicts with her emo­tions and her love for family. The second episode, “Mar­gare­tology,” illus­trates this by con­trast. 

While Eliz­abeth becomes a bedrock for the nation, a nec­essary compass for her people, Mar­garet (played by the fan­tastic Helena Bonham Carter) flaunts about, wining and dining American elites.

In a flashback, Sir Alan “Tommy” Las­celles (Pip Torrens), private sec­retary to the monarch, tells a young Eliz­abeth that the crown is more than “an ornament to be worn.”

“It is a priv­ilege and a burden which comes with for­mi­dable expec­ta­tions and respon­si­bil­ities,” he tells Eliz­abeth, who does not want the throne when she grows up.

Mean­while, Las­celles instructs young Mar­garet — who des­per­ately wants the crown one day — to “accept your position in life,” adding that “we all have a role to play.” As “The Crown” takes a Mil­tonic turn, it shows that when it comes to our duties to things higher than our­selves, we all must know where we fit in the larger picture. 

With Eliz­abeth, the audience has an antidote to the hyper-indi­vid­u­ality of the West. As a leader, she cannot afford to let her indi­vid­u­ality creep in too much into her role as sov­ereign over church and state.

What “The Crown” presents is really a human issue. The show has always upheld the British monarchy as an ideal, a moral model for Britons to follow as good and vir­tuous cit­izens. Because of the human ten­dency toward vice, we all need people higher than our­selves — cul­turally, polit­i­cally, spir­i­tually — to demon­strate for us how we should live. But some­times  those above us struggle, too.

“The Crown” handles this tension remarkably. One of the high­lights of the third season is the queen’s oddly calm yet stiff meetings with Prime Min­ister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins). In episode three, “Aberfan,” the queen wrestles with her inability to show emotion after an indus­trial accident trag­i­cally kills more than 100 children. 

Wilson points out that the average working man sees him as an ideal socialist, though he is “a priv­i­leged Oxford don, not a worker.” Even if leaders are not actually ideals them­selves, they must work to seem so, in order to inspire their people. 

 In the same way, Wilson says the people don’t want the royal family to be normal. They want them to be ideal (to which Eliz­abeth retorts that “only God is ideal”).

“We can’t be every­thing to everyone and still be true to our­selves. We do what we have to do as leaders. That’s our job,” Wilson says.

Here lies the central struggle which “The Crown” examines. We can’t entirely sac­rifice our indi­vid­u­ality for the sake of doing our duty. As much as leaders need to strive to rep­resent ideals, they will fall short. 

But when it comes to serving our country at large or just our local com­munity, we should be willing to set aside our own wants and desires for the sake of others. It’s this reality which ensures that “The Crown” remains not only enter­taining but edi­fying.