Growing Chorus Urges Disclaimer on The Crown

Dame Judi Dench says 'cruelly unjust' storylines on Netflix show risk damaging the monarchy
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2022 10:40 AM CDT
Growing Chorus Urges Disclaimer on The Crown
This image shows Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in a scene from "The Crown."   (Netflix via AP)

Netflix balked at a request by the UK's then-culture secretary to put a disclaimer on The Crown—one that would make clear that its portrayal of the British royal family isn't accurate—with the release of the show's fourth season, which portrayed a tumultuous time in Charles and Diana's relationship. But the chorus has only grown louder ahead of the Nov. 9 premiere of the fifth season, which will take viewers through the couple's divorce. In a letter to the UK Times, Dame Judi Dench, one of Britain's most distinguished actors, demands Netflix add a disclaimer "for the sake of a family and a nation so recently bereaved, as a mark of respect to a sovereign who served her people so dutifully for 70 years, and to preserve their own reputation."

The Oscar winner notes reported storylines—"that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother's parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence"—are "both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent." She adds she fears "a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas," may take all this for truth. She's not the only one. Former British Prime Minister John Major has denied he was involved in any abdication discussion, as the new season reportedly shows. Indeed, he's called for a boycott of the show, describing it as "a barrel-load of malicious nonsense," per the Telegraph. Even crew members have described feeling uncomfortable with some storylines, per the Sun.

Sources tell the Telegraph that Prince William is also upset with the new season, which reportedly portrays Diana's 1995 bombshell interview with the BBC—one she was tricked into giving. Last year, when the BBC admitted wrongdoing, William said the interview should "never be aired again." There are fears "that as the series goes closer to the present, it will have the ability to inflict significant damage to the new king," per the Telegraph. Royal biographer William Shawcross has accused the series of trying "to destroy by lies a vital institution," per Tatler. In a statement, Netflix says the show "has always been presented as a drama based on historical events" and that the upcoming season "is a fictional dramatization, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors." (More Netflix stories.)

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