Over the weekend, The Crown returned for its fourth season, which was much-awaited for two reasons. One, it’s The Crown. Two, this season of Netflix’s much-loved show about the Royal Family is all about the Margaret Thatcher/Princess Diana years, which represents some of their juiciest — and most tragic — history. (Although the season ends in 1990, seven years before Di’s death.) One figure who doesn’t come off greatly is Charles, Prince of Wales, played by Josh O’Connor. And while the real-life person has yet to comment on the show, his friends sure did, and then some.
According to The Daily Mail, a number of “Palace insiders” have come forth — anonymously, as it were — to slam the show for purported inaccuracies and fictions.
“This is drama and entertainment for commercial ends being made with no regard to the actual people involved who are having their lives hijacked and exploited,” one insider told the Mail. “In this case, it’s dragging up things that happened during very difficult times 25 or 30 years ago without a thought for anyone’s feelings. That isn’t right or fair, particularly when so many of the things being depicted don’t represent the truth.”
Another insider was steamed about the way they portrayed Charles and Diana, the latter played by Emma Corrin. “The new series paints the Prince and Duchess in a very unflattering light but at least at the start of reality shows like The Only Way Is Essex they admit that some scenes have been invented for entertainment,” the person said. “There is no sense of telling carefully nuanced stories – it’s all very two-dimensional. This is trolling with a Hollywood budget. The public shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is an accurate portrayal of what really happened.”
Yet another roped in Charles and Diana’s son, Prince Harry, as well as Duchess Meghan Markle, who famously semi-cut ties with the family, moved to Los Angeles, and cut a huge deal with Netflix, who owns The Crown. “There are raised eyebrows about Harry taking millions from the company that’s behind all this,” they said. “After all where do much of Netflix’s profits come from? The Crown.”
Other Season 4 critics weren’t shy about putting their name on their disses. Royal biographer Sally Beddell Smith trashed the show as “a work of fiction and the level of invention has been growing. While the earlier seasons were period pieces, series four is recent history, so it seems more cruel in its false depictions.”
‘Because The Crown is such a lavish and expensive production, and so much attention has been paid to visual details about historical events, viewers are tricked into believing that what they are seeing actually happened. There should be a disclaimer at the start of each programme saying, ‘This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to those living or dead is purely coincidental.’ ‘
Smith went so far as to accuse the show’s writer Peter Morgan as being “almost Trumpian with his alternative facts.” Then she really twisted the knife: “This is a Downton Abbey version of the Royal Family.”
Others worried how surviving members of the family would take it. Former Welsh Secretary and Vale of Glamorgan and Conservative MP Alun Cairns said, “There is no doubt that whilst millions will enjoy watching The Crown, we need to be mindful that the programmes raise painful events that will have an impact on members of the Royal Family and others who were children or innocent bystanders.”
The Mail even highlights some of the inaccuracies. For one thing, the show suggests — erroneously, as it happens — that Charles continued his tabloid-fixture affair with now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles throughout his marriage to Diana. But there’s more:
In what is felt to be a particularly wounding fabrication, Charles’s beloved great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten is shown, shortly before his death at the hands of the IRA, telling the Prince that the family are disappointed at his relationship with Camilla and to find a wife. In the drama, Charles calls him a traitor. There is no evidence the exchange happened.
In another insidious fictional scene, Prince Philip issues a threat to Diana in 1990 after she suggests leaving Charles. Sources said this appeared to be a clumsy reference to baseless conspiracy theories that he was somehow involved in the car crash in Paris that killed the Princess in August 1997.
Mind you, the piece finds no one standing up for its portrayal of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson.
The fourth season of The Crown can now be streamed on Netflix.
(Via The Daily Mail)