Despite the international success of The Crown, which began airing in 2016, The Australian Monarchist League (AML) has recently called for audiences to stop watching the show and boycott Netflix if a disclaimer stressing the “falsehoods and inaccuracies” of the show is not put in place.
Criticisms have been fired by former prime ministers Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major, and even actor Judi Dench, regarding the accuracy of The Crown. Dench described the Emmy award-winning show as “willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and crude sensationalism.” She stated that it is unfair for the streaming service not to add a disclaimer that demonstrates events within the show are not “wholly true.”
The AML has raised concerns over a scene in which Prince Charles meets with Major to discuss ousting Queen Elizabeth II from the throne. Major responded by writing in the Daily Telegraph, “Fiction should not be paraded as fact.” Chairman of the AML, Philip Benwell, added his thoughts on the matter.
He said, “Even before Sir John issued a statement saying that that fictitious conversation was ‘a barrel-load of malicious nonsense’, it is fundamentally clear that Prince Charles would never have spoken about the Queen abdicating because he of all people knew that because of the oath her majesty swore at her coronation, she would never abdicate as the commitment she gave was for life.”
Although a disclaimer has been added to the beginning of season five’s trailer, insisting that The Crown is a “fictional dramatisation” and “inspired by real events”, Netflix has not yet added individual disclaimers to each episode. Benwell called this “inadequate.” He added, “It is one thing to create a clearly fictitious narrative such as Robin Hood, but quite another to purposefully build a series including falsehoods and inaccuracies about people still living.”
Benwell continued, “Many people who watch historical series do so believing them to be a true depiction of events and a sort of semi-documentary, which undeniably many are. These unsuspecting people, unaware of the true situation, will undoubtedly take the falsehoods and inaccuracies contained in The Crown to be genuine.”
“It is also disgraceful that Netflix is airing their new series two months after the death of the Queen and just over six months from the coronation of the King about whom the series contains falsehoods.”
In contrast, Claudia Harrison, who plays Princess Anne, argued that disclaimers would “patronise the audiences worldwide, and to think people are genuinely sitting down thinking this is a documentary and that everything they see is fact, I feel uncomfortable with that … Patronise an audience at your peril.”