'The Crown' offers some valuable life lessons

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Americans may have earned independence from the Brits in 1776, but some things we can't let go of. (FILE PHOTO)

(CNN) — Americans may have earned independence from the Brits in 1776, but some things we can't let go of.

One being our fascination with the British royal family.

"The Crown" may be a fictionalized telling of Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne and the monarch's family, but for those of us who are total Anglophiles (raises hand) it's fun to try and figure out which story lines in the series are closest to reality.

Season four centers on two relationships: Prince Charles' tumultuous marriage to Lady Diana Spencer and the dynamics — marked by respect mixed with tension — between Queen Elizabeth and the United Kingdom's first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Olivia Colman reprises her role as Elizabeth II, and Josh O'Connor is back as her son Charles, Prince of Wales. Newcomer Emma Corrin joins the cast as Princess Diana, and Gillian Anderson plays Thatcher.

In their performances, Corrin and Anderson are each a force to reckon with. (If Anderson isn't nominated for her deliberate portrayal of Thatcher, there is no justice.)

Beyond the pomp and pageantry of "The Crown" are fallible characters whose lives hold some valuable lessons.

1. People are complex creatures: I definitely have my feelings about who comes off as a villain this season (looking at you, Prince Charles). People and their motivations, however, can be complicated.

And while Princess Diana's story line is a bit more forgiving, we know that in reality she was also unfaithful in their marriage and not without some responsibility for their strife.

2. Your history can influence your future: Viewers get a better sense this season of the royal children having some ... issues. The earlier seasons make it clear, though, that their elders had their own problems. Love, devotion and a desire for affection prove elusive and the source of most of the Windsor family's troubles in "The Crown."

Season two has a particularly strong episode about the trauma Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, suffered as a youth, including his pregnant sister and her family perishing in a plane crash in the 1930s.

3. Speaking of history, we need to learn from it: You cannot tell the story of this family and not include how it all began.

Queen Elizabeth II became a monarch because her uncle David, known to the public as King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne for the woman he loved, American Wallis Warfield Simpson. Simpson, who had divorced her first husband, also pursued a divorce from her second husband to be with Elizabeth's uncle.

That forced Elizabeth's father into becoming King George VI, the stress of which, according to the series, led to an early death, thereby making her queen.

Loving a person deemed "unacceptable" is a reoccurring theme.

The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, falls for an older man, Peter Townsend, who is divorced. Prince Charles may have married Diana, but his true love was Camilla Parker Bowles (née Shand), who he did eventually wed.

4. You have to play the cards you are dealt: One of the show's earlier themes was that Princess Margaret would have much rather have been Queen and seemed better suited for it than her older sister, Elizabeth. Margaret had been played the first two seasons by Vanessa Kirby before Helena Bonham Carter took over the role she smashingly makes her own.

But as outgoing and spontaneous as Princess Margaret is portrayed, we learn that while her sister may be more reserved and levelheaded, she actually is better suited for the monarchy for just those reasons.

The ability to tell a good joke and charm heads of state may be good for headlines, but there is much more to ruling as a constitutional monarch than those attributes.

5. Duty is serious business: One of the reasons Queen Elizabeth has successfully reigned since 1952 is because she has never, ever shirked her duty.

While "The Crown's" creator, Peter Morgan, has defended taking some liberties with the writing, it's not hard to imagine that the series taps — even just a little bit — into the real-life drama of this famous family.

How majestic is that?

This story was first published on CNN.com "'The Crown' offers some valuable life lessons"