The Crown defends show as ‘fictional dramatisation’ after John Major criticises scenes


Netflix has defended The Crown as a “fictional dramatisation” after coming under fire for scenes expected to feature in its upcoming fifth series.

The big-budget royal drama moves into the 1990s for its next season, covering the period around the break-up of Charles and Diana‘s marriage – starring Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki as the couple, and Imelda Staunton as the Queen.

Prince Charles (Dominic West), a young Harry (Teddy Hawley), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and a young William (Timothee Sambor) in series five of The Crown. Pic: Netflix
Prince Charles (Dominic West), a young Harry (Teddy Hawley), Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and a young William (Timothee Sambor)

According to reports, series five of The Crown will also include scenes depicting the King, who was then Prince of Wales, plotting to oust his mother.

Sir John Major, who was prime minister at the time and is played by Trainspotting star Jonny Lee Miller, is reported to have described the scenes as “malicious fiction” and said he was not approached to fact-check any material.

One episode is expected to show Charles cutting short a holiday with Diana to host a secret meeting with Sir John in 1991.

Following the criticism, a spokeswoman for The Crown said: “The Crown has always been presented as a drama based on historical events.

“Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the Royal Family – one that has already been scrutinised and well-documented by journalists, biographers and historians.”

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A spokesperson for Sir John said that if the scenes are broadcast, “they should be seen as nothing other than damaging and malicious fiction”.

This is not the first time The Crown has been criticised for allegedly not doing enough to highlight that it is a work of fiction.

Imelda Staunton as The Queen and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Phillip in series five of The Crown
Imelda Staunton takes over as The Queen and Jonathan Pryce plays Prince Phillip in series five

Oliver Dowden, who was culture secretary when series four launched in 2020, asked Netflix to add a disclaimer to episodes – a request the streaming platform rejected.

Although there is no disclaimer on the individual episodes, when viewers tune in the show is labelled with a “log line” as a fictional drama based on historical events.

In 2021, TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, a friend of the King’s, said in an interview that the show is “playing with people’s lives“.

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The Crown was due to end after the fifth series, but creator and writer Peter Morgan later said it would be extended to include a sixth.

Series five of the show will also delve into Diana’s now infamous Panorama interview with journalist Martin Bashir, it was previously revealed.

Her death is expected to be covered in the sixth season.

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However, Netflix has said it will not depict the Paris car crash that killed Diana in August 1997, contrary to media reports.

It is understood the series will show the lead-up to the fatal incident as well as its aftermath, but not the crash itself.

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