Britain’s culture minister is adamant that the royal drama “The Crown” is a work of fiction.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that the hit Netflix series should include a disclaimer amid criticism of the historical liberties that have been taken about the real-life British royal family.
“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction,” he explained to the outlet. “So as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that. Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
Dowden is expected to write to Netflix this week to express his view. The streaming service did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press. However, a spokesperson pointed out to The Hollywood Reporter that it had already been reported that “The Crown” is a drama based on actual events.
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The show, which first premiered in 2016, traces the long reign of Queen Elizabeth II, 94, which began in 1952. While “The Crown” has been dissected over the years for its dramatic interpretations of the royal family, Season 4 has sparked the most debates and headlines so far.
The current season, set in the ‘80s, focuses on the widely publicized marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as well as the 11-year tenure of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which transformed and divided Britain.
Diana passed away in 1997 at age 36 from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash. Thatcher died in 2013 at age 87.
The troubled relationship of Charles and Diana, played by Josh O’Connor and Emma Corrin, is a major storyline in the series. Former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter has called “The Crown” a “hatchet job” on Charles, 72, who is the heir to the British throne, as well as Diana.
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Arbiter has also accused the series of "stretching dramatic license to the extreme,” The Hollywood Reporter shared.
Charles and Diana divorced in 1996, a year before her death. The prince remarried in 2005 to Camilla Parker Bowles, who is now the Duchess of Cornwall. Arbiter told the BBC that “The Crown” has depicted Charles and Camilla, 73, as “villains.”
Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has also said the show should carry a notice that “this isn’t true but it is based around some real events.”
“I worry people do think that this is gospel and that’s unfair,” the 56-year-old told broadcaster ITV.
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Some Conservatives have also criticized the program’s depiction of Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson. Britain’s first female prime minister is portrayed as clashing with Olivia Colman’s Elizabeth to an extent that some say is exaggerated.
“The Crown” creator Peter Morgan, whose work also includes recent-history dramas “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon,” has defended his work, saying it is thoroughly researched and true in spirit.
In a 2017 discussion of “The Crown,” Morgan said, “you sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”
Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, said the suggestion that “The Crown” carry a disclaimer was “reasonable and yet pointless.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.