Prince William believes Netflix’s hit show The Crown is “damaging” to the Royal Family, it has been claimed. A source described as a close friend of the Prince of Wales was reported saying the historical drama, which portrays events linked to the Royal Family at times in a distorted way, is “harsh and hurtful”.
They told The Sunday Times: “[Prince William] has spoken about it, and now, as it is coming closer to the present, he is particularly concerned about it. William does think it is damaging.
“The Royal Family know a lot of it is nonsense, but it is really harsh and hurtful.”
Netflix released the fifth season of The Crown last Wednesday, with its latest 10 episodes focusing on the seven years of Sir John Major as Prime Minister of Britain.
Prince William, played by Timothee Sambor first and later by Senan West in the final few episodes, appears in multiple episodes of the latest season of the show.
While studying at Eton or visiting the Queen at Windsor Castle, the fictionalised prince can be seen looking increasingly worried for his mother Princess Diana and, at times, annoyed by her comments.
In one scene, the late Princess of Wales, played by Elizabeth Debicki, tells her eldest son to put in a good word for her while he has tea with his grandmother, a remark the young prince reports back to the sovereign.
The fifth season of The Crown includes Diana’s decision to collaborate with journalist Andrew Morton for his tell-all biography of the princess as well as her interview with Martin Bashir for Panorama in 1995.
Prior to its release, it sparked furore among many royal watchers as it emerged its first episode was focused on Prince Charles, played by Dominic West, reacting to a poll by The Sunday Times published in August 1991 which suggested the Queen had been on the throne for too long and should abdicate before the public grew too tired of the monarchy itself.
This article, the episode shows, prompted Charles to have a private meeting with Prime Minister Major, played by Jonny Lee Miller, in which he suggested Elizabeth II should be persuaded to abdicate.
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The theme of Charles believing the time is ripe for his accession to the throne is presented throughout the series, with the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia used as a metaphor for the Queen’s reign.
In an analysis separating facts from fiction portrayed in The Crown, historian Hugo Vickers noted the Times didn’t publish a similar poll in August 1991.
Rather, in January 1990, the newspaper published results of a survey in which 47 percent of the respondents thought that the Queen should abdicate “at some stage”, with the findings also showing the public was still largely pro-monarchy and was seeing both the monarch and her heir favourably.
Prior to the release of the episode, the story was dismissed by a spokesperson for the real Sir John as “a barrel-load of nonsense”.
They added no discussion between Sir John and the then Prince of Wales about a possible abdication of Elizabeth II ever took place.
Netflix replied saying its show “has always been presented as a drama based on historical events”.
A spokesperson for the organisation added: “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.”
Netflix had also come under fire following the release of The Crown’s fourth series, which heavily focused on Charles and Diana’s marriage and his affair with the then Camilla Parker Bowles.
Amid its release in November 2020, the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden – as well as Earl Spencer and many royal commentators, asked the US streaming platform to issue a “health warning” before the show to make it clear it was fictionalised – but Netflix said it didn’t see the need to do so.