How Much of ‘The Crown’ Is True? Netflix And Its Stars Weigh In

The Crown

You’ve no doubt heard that there has been plenty of drama surrounding The Crown due to concerns that people wouldn’t get that the series is just that — a drama. 

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was so worried that young viewers “may mistake fiction for fact”, he urged Netflix to include a disclaimer on the show to remind fans that creative licence had been taken and to not treat the recreations as gospel. 

However, Netflix seems to have a little more faith in its subscriber’s ability to discern the difference between reality and fantasy and has therefore declined to add the requested caveat. 

A spokesperson for Netflix said in a statement, “We have always presented ‘The Crown’ as a drama — and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events. As a result we have no plans — and see no need — to add a disclaimer.”

The streaming hit has faced questions in regards to its accuracy since it premiered in 2016, but the controversy reached fever pitch with the debut of the fourth season, which explores the doomed marriage of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana. 

In fact, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer added his voice to the dispute saying, “I think it would help The Crown an enormous amount if, at the beginning of each episode, it stated that: ‘This isn’t true but it is based around some real events.’”

Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter was a tad more biting in his critique of the season four storyline, calling it “a hatchet job on Prince Charles and a bit of a hatchet job on Diana”.  

Even Helena Bonham Carter — who has played the role of Princess Margaret in seasons 3 and 4 — expressed the opinion that the producers of the show have a “moral responsibility” to remind viewers the show is “dramatized”. 

“I do feel very strongly, because I think we have a moral responsibility to say, ‘Hang on guys, this is not… it’s not a drama-doc, we’re making a drama.’ So they are two different entities,” Bonham Carter said. 

For his part, creator and executive producer Peter Morgan has called the show “an act of creative imagination” with a “constant push-pull” between research and drama.

Morgan’s partner, Gillian Anderson — who plays British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — also shared her feelings on the controversy during an interview with InStyle.

“It’s so obvious that we’re doing a TV show and that these are characters based on real-life people. To me, it just felt like drama for the sake of drama. But I get that there are a lot of people invested,” she told the magazine. “There’s a lot of stuff that could have been written about – but was not – that is so much worse than what ended up in the show. There has been kindness extended in certain areas where it didn’t have to be.”

Season four of The Crown is now streaming on Netflix. 

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