Is The Crown causing the Royal Family more harm than good?

Palace insiders and journalists including Andrew Marr claim the Netflix series is ‘sadistic’ and ‘grossly unfair’

Olivia Colman stars in The Crown season three on Netflix
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in the hit drama
(Image credit: Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix)

Outraged critics have demanded that Netflix clearly label The Crown as “fiction” amid claims that the show’s inaccurate storylines could irreversibly damage the monarchy.

BBC journalist Andrew Marr has joined a string of angry viewers in arguing that “many key scenes never happened or are a distortion of the truth” and that the show should include a “disclaimer” about its accuracy, the Daily Mail reports.

As fans tune in for the first episode of the fourth series, released on Sunday, Marr told The Sun that if the creators announced “this is drama, it’s fiction, it’s entertainment”, The Crown would be “brilliant”.

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“But when you start to say, ‘this is the truth about these people’s lives’, it’s grossly unfair and really quite sadistic,” he argued, adding: “If I was one of the Royal Family, I would be utterly, utterly horrified.”

Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer, has also criticised the hit drama. Appearing on Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh on Sunday, Spencer insisted that “you can hang it on fact, but the bits in between are not fact”.

“The worry for me is that people see a program like that and they forget that it is fiction,” added the earl, who has recently made headlines by demanding an investigation into his sister’s infamous 1995 interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir.

“They assume, especially foreigners, I find Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson. Well, they haven’t.”

The portrayal of Prince Charles, played by Josh O'Connor, has come under particular scrutiny. Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter told Times Radio that the series has “made the Prince of Wales a villain. He’s not a villain. He never has been a villain.”

“Another representation that has come under scrutiny is that of the Queen’s mothering skills,” Tatler says. Scenes in which the monarch, played by Olivia Colman, is shown to know nothing about her children’s interests have been criticised for suggesting she “lacks a degree of maternal involvement”, the magazine continues.

The creator of the multi-award winning show, Peter Morgan, has hit back against the complaints of historical inaccuracy, saying that “you sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth”.

Referring to an invented scene in which Princes Charles is criticised by Lord Mountbatten (Charles Dance) for failing to find a wife, Morgan last week told the official The Crown podcast: “In my own head, I thought that would have even greater impact on Charles if it were to come post-mortem, as it were.

“I think everything what’s in that letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe, based one everything I’ve read and people I’ve spoken to, that represents his view.”

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