Netflix has refused to add a disclaimer to its webseries, The Crown, to indicate to viewers that it was a work of fiction, reported The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday. Following the release of Season 4 in November, with the Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ storyline leading to backlash from fans against the Royal family, the UK’s Cultural Secretary Oliver Dowden had asked the OTT platform to warn viewers of the fictional nature of the show.
A Netflix spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “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 fourth season of The Crown, which began streaming on Netflix in November this year, focuses on the period between 1979 to 1990. Major themes include the turbulent relationship between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Prince Charles’s affair and subsequent marriage with Camilla Parker-Bowles, Princess Diana’s eating disorder, the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in 1979, and the ousting of Margaret Thatcher in 1990.
Dowden’s remarks on declaring it as fiction come in the wake of fan outrage on social media against Prince Charles and Camilla after Season 4’s release.
“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” Dowden had told The Mail. “Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
Earlier this month, Dowden found unlikely support in cast member actor Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret. Carter said in an official podcast interview that the show had a “moral responsibility” to clarify that it was fiction. She said, “It 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.”
Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has also supported Dowden’s stance. Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said “It would help The Crown an enormous amount if at the beginning of each episode it stated that, ‘This isn’t true but is based around some real events’. Because then everyone would understand it’s drama for drama’s sake.”
On the other hand cast member Emma Corin, who plays Diana, told the Daily Mail that it was not needed. She said, “I think for everyone in The Crown we always try and remind everyone that… the series we are in is fictionalised to a great extent. Obviously it has its roots in reality and in some fact but Peter Morgan’s scripts are works of fiction.”
The Crown is a historical drama series created by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Rush). It is based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, her marriage to Prince Philip and her reign into the 21st century. The lead cast includes Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Tobias Menzies, Claire Foy, Vanessa Kirby, Emma Corrin, John Lithgow, Matt Smith, Josh O’ Connor, and others. The series, produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Television Pictures for Netflix, first aired in 2016.
The fifth season is expected to release in 2022.