Editor’s note: This story contains some spoilers about “The Crown” Season 5.
“The Crown” has been criticized by some for making fiction seem like reality.
Netflix’s wildly popular retelling of the lives of the modern British royal family is full of drama, too much for some people’s liking.
Season 5 premiered on Wednesday and was controversial even before the premiere.
This is because former British Prime Minister Sir John Major complained that a scene intended to show him and then Prince Charles (played by Dominic West) discussing a plot to dethrone his mother, Queen Elizabeth, when Major was in office, was a “barrel load of malicious nonsense.”
Beloved actress Dame Judi Dench co-signed a letter to The Times, asking Netflix to add a disclaimer to the series.
“No one believes in artistic freedom more than I do, but that cannot go unquestioned,” Dench wrote. “Despite publicly stating this week that The Crown has always been a ‘fictional drama’, the show’s creators have resisted all calls to include a disclaimer at the start of each episode.”
But the series presents a story that is real, even if it has a tendency to spice things up here and there.
Here are some examples, subtle and substantive, of where the show leans towards the real story.
The series opens with the beloved royal couple heading off on what was supposed to be a romantic vacation, but it doesn’t end that way.
Of course, we have no idea if a young Prince William and Prince Harry sided with their mother over their father during holiday activities, but the show does a pretty good job of documenting the princess’ unhappiness Diana and then Prince Charles.
They cover everything from Andrew Morton’s ‘Diana’ book (on which he collaborated behind the scenes) in 1996 to the utter horror that was the leak of the salacious phone conversations between then-Prince Charles and his now wife Camilla which caused a great controversy. for his infidelity.
One senses that as tortured as it is on screen, it was even worse for the couple in real life.
During the speech she gave to mark her 40th anniversary on the throne, Queen Elizabeth makes a speech about the year 1992 as her “annus horribilis”.
“1992 is not a year I will look back on with undiluted pleasure,” he said.
One of the reasons he had such a horrible year was because of a fire at Windsor Castle that destroyed over 100 rooms.
The fire isn’t a major story, but a scene showing Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth watching the destruction seems to serve as a symbol of her family’s and by extension her country’s troubles.
Penny Knatchbull married the Duke of Edinburgh’s godson, but her friendship with Prince Philip was strong in ways that went beyond that.
The series features Prince Philip stepping in to help Knatchbull after a family tragedy takes them years to bond.
She became “the second most important wife in the Duke of Edinburgh’s life: a constant confidant, loyal companion and ‘keeper of secrets,'” Ingrid Seward wrote in her 2020 book Prince Philip Revealed.
“The Crown” makes a point to show that the much older Prince Philip wasn’t romantically involved with Knatchbull, but bonded over their shared interests such as carriage riding.
After Prince Charles admitted during an ITN documentary in 1994 that he had been disloyal to Princess Diana, she stepped out in a black Christina Stambolian dress that was dubbed “the revenge dress”.
The now iconic scene is recreated in the show by Elizabeth Debicki, who is winning praise for her portrayal of Princess Diana.