Why is The Crown so mean to Prince Charles?
Netflix released another incredibly successful season of The Crown recently, and the entire globe is buzzing about the saucy details in this season. We get Prince Charles' rocky romance with Princess Di, a crazy voice for Margaret Thatcher, and all the bickering and backstabbing you can handle.
It's not surprising the actual royals don't love it.
"I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact," said culture secretary Oliver Dowden in a Daily Mail article this week.
The culture secretary acknowledged the show was well done, adding it was a "beautifully produced work of fiction," but it "should be very clear at the beginning it is just that."
In short, he's asking for Netflix to run a warning before each episode to let people know they're watching fiction, not reality.
Donal McCabe, the Queen's communications secretary, said in a letter to the UK's Times, "The Royal Household has never agreed to vet or approve content, has not asked to know what topics will be included, and would never express a view as to the programme's accuracy."
I don't know about the accuracy, but tens of millions of people are learning from the show. A total of 73 million households worldwide have watched the royal drama, according to figures released by Netflix.
The main concern is that writer Peter Morgan is doing damage to the monarchy, and Prince Charles in particular, in the eyes of the world. He's portrayed as a sort of louse, and viewers tend to side with his wife, Diana.
According to the Daily Mail, an unnamed friend of the prince said, "It is quite sinister the way that Morgan is clearly using light entertainment to drive a very overt republican agenda, and people just don't see it. They have been lured in over the first few series until they can't see how they are being manipulated. It is highly sophisticated propaganda."
Whatever the show's agenda, it's gaining a lot of traction as we get into the 1990s and people get interested in more current history, including the salacious details of Diana's tumultuous relationship with the royal family.
When you're adapting, you have to make some concessions to move the story, but this does raise an interesting ethical question.
Morgan defended his writing to CNN earlier in the year, saying, "I made up in my head—whether it's right or wrong—what we know is that Mountbatten was really responsible for taking Charles to one side at precisely this point and saying, 'Look, you know, enough already with playing the field. It's time you got married and it's time you provided an heir.'"
He continued, "I think everything that's in the letter that Mountbatten writes to Charles is what I really believe—you know, based on everything I've read and people I've spoken to, that that represents his view. We will never know if it was put into a letter, and we will never know if Charles got that letter before or after Mountbatten's death but in this particular drama, this is how I decided to deal with it."
But what about historians?
They're on the royals' side, mostly.
"People actually do believe it because it is well filmed, lavishly produced, well-acted with good actors. You can't just dismiss it as tabloid rubbish," Hugo Vickers, historian and author of The Crown Dissected, told CNN. "In this particular series, every member of the royal family, in my view, comes out of it badly, except the Princess of Wales. It's totally one-sided, it's totally against Prince Charles."
I am not an authority, but I do think there's room on both sides of the argument. Being particularly mean to one character seems a little comical to me, but I guess there can be bias in the writing. This is not a documentary, and I do not think anyone thinks every bit is true, but it will be interesting to see how future seasons deal with these criticisms.
Did you watch The Crown? Do you accept it as wholly fact, or just fiction? Let me know what you think in the comments!